Robert Kubica impressed in the innovative Lotus Renault R31 on the final day of testing by topping the time sheets and bringing an end to the first week of pre-season testing for the 2011 Formula One teams.
Half the day had passed before the team managed to begin setting some proper stints but once running, Kubica was regularly setting competitive times. With just over and hour to go, his time of 1m 13.144s was never challenged as he completed a total of 95 laps.
"I think we can split the day into two halves because we had some problems in the morning and we only managed to do our first real run about 1:30pm," said Kubica. "But, after we solved the issues with the car, we managed to do a bit of set-up evaluation and some tyre work."
Dipping under the 1m 13.2s three times, each respective fastest lap he managed to post was on the first flying lap of each 3-lap run. The team elected to focus on longer runs in the final hour of the session and were content with their performance.
Kubica was satisfied with the second half of the day as he said, "However, because of the time we lost this morning we didn't complete the laps we targeted, but it's better to get any reliability issues with the car during testing, rather than when we get to the first race in Bahrain."
Force India were represented by Adrian Sutil today and the young German impressed by recording the second fastest time of the day with a 1m 13.201s having completed the most amount of laps during he day with 117.
"It felt good to be in the car again after a few months away!", stated Sutil. "Everything went pretty smoothly, as we expected with the VJM03, so we could complete the work we wanted to do. Paul and Nico had collected a lot of data on the tyres in the previous two days, so my aim today was to continue this work on alternative set-ups and fuel loads.
We got all the information we needed and I feel like we understand the tyre performance pretty well now. Having got back into the car again I now can't wait to get my first taste of the VJM04 next week in Jerez," added Sutil.
Marking his return to action after a winter season that encompassed more training than ever, Jenson Button impressed for McLaren in the interim MP4/235 and ended the day in third with a 1m13.535s lap.
Like Kubica in the Renault, Button took a while to get going and with the new car not being run until Jerez next week, the team spent the day focusing on tyre setup so the cold temperatures registered early in the morning meant that any running wouldn't have been really beneficial to the team's program.
"Today was mostly about tyre work," said the 2009 World Champion. "It was an interesting day and a new experience for me to try the Pirellis. They obviously work in a different way to last year's tyres -- but most of my runs were reasonably good. I was quite happy with the way the car was working; we did a lot of good work on set-up. We're moving in the right direction."
Following his master cylinder failure yesterday limiting him to just 12 laps in the red Bull, Mark Webber was keen to establish his mark on the day as early as possible. An impressive 20 laps stint proceeded a seven lap run in which his lap times fluctuated between the 1m 15s and 11m166s bracket. His fastest 1m13.936s lap was good enough for 4th, ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa - who spent the morning in the garage following his car catching fire on the circuit, in 5th on a 1m14.017s.
The Brazilian did not run the new Ferrari F150 the first two days, which were left for team mate Fernando Alonso. Massa had only a few laps completed when oil began to leak onto the exhausts, igniting the engine but he was able to bring it to a stop on the side of the track and the safety team went to work extinguishing the flames.
"It is unlikely that the car will be back on track much before 3 in the afternoon," said a Ferrari team spokesperson after they had assessed the damage. The team later confirmed that a pipe broke which led to the loss of oil and fire.
Indeed Ferrari did get Massa back on track and 30 minutes earlier than they expected. Massa turned his fast lap of the day and completed 80 laps. "We had a problem right at the start of the morning, when I was out on very old tyres," explained Massa. "It was not nice having to stop pretty much before I'd started the real work, but then, it was a relief to find out it was nothing that serious. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of time and, in the afternoon I tried to make up for it and get a feeling for the new car."
Flying the flag for Virgin Racing, Timo Glock impressed by completing 114 laps and recording the 6th fastest time with a 1m14.207 lap.
Out for Williams again, Pastor Maldonado was next up on a 1m14.299s ahead of fellow debutant Sergio Perez in the Sauber who could only manage 8th place with a 1m14.469.
"The main target for today was to get the KERS running and for Pastor to familiarise himself with the FW33," commented technical director Sam Michael. "He did a good job learning all the control systems. There is a lot for a driver to think about in the cockpit now with the KERS, the rear wing, the brakes as well as keeping the tyres up to temperature. We did more set-up changes today to keep learning about the car and some longer runs for stabilised temperature checks. We ran 100 laps trouble-free so are quite happy with that. Overall it has been a good shakedown test for us."
Spending most of the morning session on short fuel loads before concentrating on longer runs in the afternoon, Michael Schumacher was next up in the Mercedes with a 1m14.537s lap. Sebastian Buemi was the sole representative for Toro Rosso add managed to complete a total of 73 laps and recorded the 10th fastest time with a 1m14.801s, ahead of Narin Karthekeyan in the HRT who managed 63 laps and a lap time 3.3 seconds off the pace on a 1m16.535.
Team Lotus was forced to cancel running today after replacement parts for the hydraulics failures suffered by Jarno Trulli yesterday were not completed in time. The team spent the day running installation checks, aero work and system checks. Team Lotus will be the sole runner tomorrow at the Valencia circuit after electing not to run on the first day of the three day test after unveiling their 2011 car.