Maldonado on top as ill Hamilton is sidelined

Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:00pm EST
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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado led the timesheets for Lotus on the first day of Formula One testing on Thursday while world champion Lewis Hamilton was sidelined by sickness and McLaren by power unit problems.

Dutchman Max Verstappen, 17, completed the most laps on a day interrupted by a collision between Susie Wolff's Williams and the Sauber driven by Brazilian rookie Felipe Nasr.

Maldonado, whose only career grand prix win came at the Circuit de Catalunya with Williams in 2012, completed 69 laps with a best time of one minute 25.011 seconds.

Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest for Ferrari with Australian Daniel Ricciardo third in a Red Bull.

Champions Mercedes, who have completed far more laps than rivals in five days of pre-season testing in Jerez and Barcelona, had a mixed day after a high fever ruled out Hamilton following 11 laps in the morning.

German reserve Pascal Wehrlein, who was testing Force India's 2014 car, was recalled to replace the champion despite the Briton's team mate Nico Rosberg being at the circuit.

Rosberg also complained of a sore nerve in his neck and his presence in the car on Friday remained uncertain.

Verstappen, who will be Formula One's youngest ever driver when he makes his debut with Toro Rosso in Australia on March 15, completed a hefty 94 laps -- the most he has done in a single day.

Wolff, Williams test driver and wife of Mercedes motorsport head Toto, completed 86 laps but her display was interrupted by the collision.   Continued...

Lotus Formula One racing driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela sits in his car as he is pushed by members of his team during pre-season testing at the Jerez racetrack in southern Spain February 3, 2015. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo