Testing set to continue in Barcelona

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez with the new Force India car which will not be used in the second test at Barcelona
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez with the new Force India car which will not be used in the second test at Barcelona

Pre-season testing resumes today, Thursday, with F1 teams converging on the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona for four days of action ahead of the first race of the 2015 World Championship in 
Australia next month.

Having missed the opening test at Jerez three weeks ago, Silverstone-based Sahara Force India return to action this weekend, albeit with their 2014 specification car instead of this year’s new model.

The team’s 2015 drivers, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, will both take stints behind the wheel of the car, as will Pascal Wehrlein.

The 20-year-old German, a works AMG Mercedes DTM driver, is also the official test and reserve driver for the Brackley-based Mercedes AMG Petronas team. The youngster drove for his parent team in the season-closing Abu Dhabi test in November and he will now form an association with Force India.

Cooperation between Sahara Force India and their engine partner Mercedes will also see Wehrlein partake in two tests during the season.

Speaking this week, he said: “This is great news for me. I am very happy to be able to test for Force India in Spain and this will provide me with much-needed F1 track time.Actual seat time is so important over work in a simulator, and it will be good to gain further experience in Barcelona.”

Vijay Mallya, the Sahara Force India team principal, added: “We are delighted to have Pascal in one of our cars. At Force India we have always liked to provide young drivers with a chance to establish themselves as Grand Prix drivers. Pascal shows great talent and we are looking forward to him driving our VJM07.”

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg will be on-track for Mercedes as they continue the development of the 2015 Silver Arrow which will be used to defend the team’s F1 world title, although Hamilton has had to withdraw from the first day of testing due to illness.

Hamilton said: “Barcelona is a traditional F1 testing venue and is also the track that hosts the Spanish Grand Prix.

“We have one further test here before the start of the season, every lap is very important as we look for progress.”

The part Bicester-based Scuderia Toro Rosso team will have both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. in action.

Sainz said: “We have been working hard since Jerez when we launched our new car. It will be good to see how our development is going once we start to lap Barcelona. I am looking forward to a good test.”