CRASH IN SPAIN: The wrecked Sauber of Felipe Nasr (left, inset) and Williams' Susie Wolff is removed from the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Image: YouTube, Williams.
CIRCUIT DE CATALUNYA, Spain - Nearly three months after the chequered flag waved at the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP it was two rookies who got pulses racing during Formula 1 testing in Spain (Thursday Feb 19 2015).
The media room at the Circuit de Catalunya, north of Barcelona, buzzed when images of Felipe Nasr's Sauber with heavy rear damage and the stricken Williams of Susie Wolff showed the pair in a gravel trap. The session was red-flagged.
Wolff later showed reporters video, from her cellphone, of the moment Nasr, on a flying lap, was hit from behind by her. Neither driver was hurt.
'WHAT THE HELL WENT ON'
Wolff recounted: "I went straight over to him and said 'what the hell went on?'. He was a bit speechless and to be honest I was also a bit speechless. It's stupid."
Predictably, Nasr also denied blame, claiming Wolff confessed to him after the crash that she had not seen him. Nasr said: "I was clearly in the braking zone, a few metres after the braking zone, and suddenly I felt a big hit."
The Sauber and Williams crashed at Turn 5. Wolff said Nasr had moved across before completing the move, with circuit video footage showing the Sauber flying over the front of the Williams.
Both cars were repaired but Wolff's subsequent sessions were limited due to an oil-pressure problem and Nasr was asked to stop on track by Sauber due to a technical issue. Wolff completed 86 laps, Nasr79.
It was an exciting diversion in an altogether revealing day of track action in Spain, the second of three official tests before the season-opening 2015 Australian GP in Melbourne in March.
FERRARI ON PACE
The most impressive performance belonged to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen whose fastest lap on hard tyres was almost as quick as the softs-shod Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.
Auto Motor and Sport qouted Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo as saying: "The Ferraris are fast early and they're setting the pace but I'm sure Mercedes could do that (time) as well. They had a difficult day.
"We are lagging a bit but the picture is not clear yet. It's still early."
What was clear, however, was that Ferrari had made obvious progress since 2014. Journalist and former F1 team manager Peter Windsor agreed: "I think Ferrari has reached Mercedes' level of the end of 2014 but Mercedes has not yet shown its 2015 level."