Hamilton has high-speed crash at Jerez testing
(AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)
By HAROLD HECKLE
JEREZ, Spain (AP) Lewis Hamilton was reduced to being a spectator and his Mercedes team cut short its Formula One preseason trials after brake failure sent him crashing into the barrier in Jerez on Wednesday.
Hamilton's debut drive under competitive conditions for his new team came to a jarring halt after he'd set the second fastest lap of the day.
The rear brakes failed at 250 kph (170 mph) due to a hydraulic fault and his Silver Arrow went straight on at the Dry Sack hairpin, careered across the gravel trap and slammed nose-first into a tire barrier.
Hamilton was unhurt and climbed out unaided from the cockpit and walked away in oil-spattered overalls, but his car's nose and front wing were damaged.
"I am just glad that, firstly I am safe, and secondly that it has happened now and it hasn't happened when we are in the season or something like that," Hamilton said.
Mercedes said on Twitter that "the front brakes enabled him to slow the car but, he couldn't avoid the barrier."
It has not been a good start for the team, as Nico Rosberg endured a spectacular car failure with flames erupting from his car's rear on Tuesday. Rosberg has been unable to resume testing.
After a few warm-up laps, Hamilton looked to be comfortable behind the wheel and clocked a fast 1 minute, 19.519 seconds on medium compound tires.
The abrupt end to testing came on turn six after just 15 laps, only four more than Rosberg managed on Tuesday before what the team said was an electrical problem in the wiring loom.
"This is what testing is all about," Hamilton said. "It's about development pauses, errors or whatever they may be, and working on them, and that is what the guys are doing."
Mercedes later announced it was stopping testing for the day to work on repairing the car.
"We damaged the car a little bit and, as it's the new stuff, it is still being built," Hamilton said. "We didn't have too many spare parts so they are still working on it tonight."
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez, Hamilton's replacement at McLaren, took to the track for the first time. However, it was Lotus driver Romain Grosjean who beat Jenson Button's benchmark time from Tuesday, a fraction ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in a Toro Rosso.
"Today has been better than I had hoped for," said Perez. "I feel I have adapted very well and it was a positive day."
Red Bull's Mark Webber said he was pleased with testing conditions at the Jerez track in southwest Spain, a venue Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has chosen not to visit for preseason tests.
"Yeah, pretty good. We got through most of the program; its a big list but in the end we got through most of that," said Webber, whose teammate Sebastian Vettel is the three-time defending champion.
"Testing conditions are sensational, a really, really good track. In terms of the weather, the grip level on the circuit is very good and getting stronger, so all in all it's a very good facility and the weather is great. We are very happy with what we did in terms of testing," Webber said.
Sauber said it had a good roll-out of its C32 as driver Nico Hulkenberg completed 79 laps "without any noteworthy problems."
Updated February 6, 2013