MARCH 3, 2012
Perez sets quickest Barcelona time
Sergio Perez (1:22.094) set the quickest time of the latest Barcelona test so far in the new Sauber, although 47 laps in the morning included a qualifying simulation on soft compound Pirelli tyres.
Just a hundredth slower was Jenson Button with the McLaren MP4-27 (1:22.103), who spent his day race evaluating the latest package that McLaren will take to Melbourne after suffering a hydraulic problem that kept the car in the pits until after the lunch break.
Rain then further interrupted a programme that will now be conducted by Lewis Hamilton on tomorrow's final day.
"It was nice to drive the new package and I have a good feeling about it, but I need to work with it a bit longer to find the right balance," Button said.
Daniel Ricciardo (1:22.155) took over the Toro Rosso from Jean-Eric Vergne and did aero work in the morning before tackling a full race simulation in the afternoon.
"I enjoyed the race simulation and we treated it like a real race," Ricciardo smiled. "When the rain came, my engineer asked me on the radio to make the call about when to come in for tyres and which ones to fit. It was good to have to make decisions and to experience Pirelli's intermediates and rain tyres."
Felipe Massa lapped in 1:22.413 aboard the Ferrari F2012, three hundredths quicker than Force India's Paul Di Resta (1:22.466)
Force India's Jakob Andreasen said: "We simulated a race weekend today with a race distance this afternoon, which taught us a lot about the operating window of the car and where we need to focus our efforts between now and Melbourne. The plan for tomorrow will be more of the same as we try to cover another race distance with Nico (Hulkenberg)."
Bruno Senna (1:22.480) was sixth quickest with the Williams FW34, putting 111 laps on the car without any issues.
"We completed some runs on lower fuel, which I hadn't done before, using all the different tyre compounds," he explained. "I was then able to do a full race simulation in the afternoon, to learn more about the car and tyres in a race situation."
Heikki Kovalainen (1:22.630) was next with the new Caterham.
"We found a good direction on set-up that is giving me real confidence in the balance, which is what we wanted before we head to Melbourne," the Finn said. "I think we've now caught up with the time we lost last week."
Red Bull introduced its Melbourne updates to the RB8, including revised nose and exhaust treatment as Mark Webber (1:22.662) did his final day of testing before his home race.
"We had a pretty good run today and once again we learned a lot," Webber said. "I suppose the thing that everyone's obviously asking about is the changes we made to the car, but I have to say the car was not massively different to the one I drove on Thursday.
"We went through our normal programme, nothing drastic happened, and we just keep working away. It would have been nice to have a few more laps today but then again we didn't have a race simulation planned, so the rain didn't really hurt us." The team elected not to run in the rain.
Nico Rosberg took the Mercedes W03 round in 1:22.932 and seems satisfied ahead of the first race.
"I believe that we've made a step forward from last year," he said. "Now it's exciting to go to the first race and see where we are. Finally all the talking stops and the racing starts."
Kimi Raikkonen (1:25.379) lost time with a Lotus power steering problem in the morning and with the team also electing not to run in the wet, it was a short day for the 2007 world champion.
"Aside from the time we lost early on, it was clear that we were running a different programme from the other teams today," explained Lotus's Alan Permane.