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Nico Hulkenberg fastest as hydraulics issue stops McLaren

Gasperotti/Sutton Images

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg finished the third day of winter testing fastest as McLaren's session ended prematurely with a hydraulics issue.

Hulkenberg headlined proceedings with a super-soft run which saw him finish 2.7s quicker than the nearest man on his first day with the new Force India, clocking 99 laps in the process. It was a busy day for all the teams, with everyone but McLaren completing a race distance over the nine hours. After two encouraging days for the Woking team, Jenson Button stopped in the pit lane with a smoking car caused by a hydraulics leak and did not emerge again.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen managed just four laps before lunch, as his Ferrari was stricken in the garage for much of the morning with a fuel sensor issue. The Finn recovered to complete a race distance after lunch, finishing the day with 78 laps to his name and putting Ferrari ahead of Mercedes for the third day in a row, though that is of minimal significance at this stage of testing.

Renault recorded a more encouraging day in terms of mileage, with Kevin Magnussen completing 103 laps and finishing third with a soft tyre lap. However, after two days of problems for team-mate Jolyon Palmer, Magnussen stopped at the end of the pit lane in the final hour, though he emerged before the end of the session.

World champions Mercedes decided to split its drivers either side of lunch due to the high amount of laps it hoped to complete in the day and the toll it was taking on the drivers. Nico Rosberg completed 74 laps in the morning before Lewis Hamilton added 87 in the afternoon, though the team did not test the new nose and front wing many expected them to. Impressive as Mercedes' lap count was, it was matched single-handedly by Carlos Sainz in a mammoth day for the Toro Rosso which saw him accumulate 161 laps, even after a stoppage early in the morning.

Daniil Kvyat finished ninth with 74 laps to his name for Red Bull, while Williams driver Felipe Massa completed another solid day for the team with 109 laps. Rookie driver Rio Haryanto finished 12th for Manor, five seconds off the pace despite a late improvement on the soft tyres.

Times at close:

1. Nico Hulkenberg - Force India - 1:23.110 - 99 laps

2. Romain Grosjean - Haas - 1:25.874 - 82 laps

3. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 1:25.977 - 78 laps

4. Kevin Magnussen - Renault - 1:26.014 - 111 laps

5. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 1:26.084 - 74 laps

6. Carlos Sainz - Toro Rosso - 1:26.239 - 161 laps

7. Felipe Nasr - Sauber - 1:26.392 - 115 laps

8: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:26.421 - 88 laps

9. Daniil Kvyat - Red Bull - 1:26.497 - 74 laps

10. Felipe Massa - Williams - 1:26.712 - 109 laps

11. Jenson Button - McLaren - 1:26.919 - 51 laps

12. Rio Haryanto - Manor - 1:28.249 - 78 laps