Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
- This time Sergio Perez is fastest on day 3
- HRT’s F112 will not be ready for Sunday
- Rain provides chances to test intermediates
Today it was Sergio Perez’ turn to shine on the Circuit de Catalunya during the third day of testing at the Barcelona circuit, the Japanese driver scored the quickest time with a blazing lap of 1m22.094s, and he was closely followed by Jenson Button who took second spot for McLaren, with a difference of just 0.009s. Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed third place and wasn’t too far off either as he was just 0,061s shy of Perez’ lap.
Perez was happy with what for him was the final pre-season test, “We did an intensive programme with qualifying and race preparation, which was important to do.” He reckons Sauber is ready for racing, “I think we have demonstrated that the car has developed well over the testing period. The team has made the most out of all the information we have collected and certainly is in good shape. Also personally I feel ready for Melbourne.”
Third place man Ricciardo, is already looking forward to his home Grand Prix, I enjoyed the race simulation and we treated it like a real race when the rain came, with my engineer asking me on the radio to make the call about when to come in for tyres and which ones to fit.” And he concluded, “A good day with my highest number of kilometres of the season, which is perfect preparation for Melbourne!”
All the fastest times were as usual recorded in the morning, and the afternoon was again the scene of long race simulation runs, pit stops, tyre changes and practice starts.
After the usual installation laps and system checks drivers were keen to set a good lap time, Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was the early pace-setter with a time of 1m25.164s, but was soon beaten by Bruno Senna in the Williams with a lap of 1m24.058s, almost a whole second faster than the Australian.
But it was another Australian, Mark Webber who took over from Sebastian Vettel today, who went out on the mediums and without further ado took first place at the time with a lap of 1m23.577s. But it didn’t take long before Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took the lead using the soft tyres, and after one hour the order was: Massa, Senna, Nico Rosberg, Ricciardo and Perez, who was back in the Sauber cockpit today.
Soon Massa improved his own quickest lap and recorded the first time under the 1m23s today with a lap of 1m22.896s on the hard tyres. He returned to the pits to change to the super soft tyres, went out again and took 4 tenths of his time with a lap of 1m22.413s which meant he was still in the lead with the Ferrari F2012.
Teams tested significant updates for their car today, McLaren and Red Bull had already announced the car configuration for Melbourne would be quite different from what we have seen so far during testing.
It was therefore no surprise reporters and photographers were very keen to spot what the exact changes were, and Red Bull covered the most vital parts of their car and barricaded the garage with black screens to keep out curious photographers who were hoping to make the shot of the day to reveal the latest changes.
Back in the cockpit was Kimi Raikkonen, who had to catch up as he hadn’t been in the car since the first pre-season test session in Jerez, as Lotus withdrew from last week’s Barcelona testing when they encountered a serious chassis problem. Again problems for Lotus surfaced as Raikkonen was not happy with the steering of the E20, and with one hour to go the Finn had only completed three laps and was patiently waiting in the garage for his steering problem to be fixed.
Meanwhile plenty of action on the Circuit de Catalunya, Perez, Paul di Resta, Massa, Rosberg and Ricciardo were constantly improving their lap times, with a little over half hour to go until lunch break, Ricciardo took over first position from Massa, but not for long as Perez in the Sauber then claimed the quickest lap with a time of 1m22.094s on the softs, only 0.094s away from a time under the 1m22s marker.
Ricciardo soon was back on the circuit, this time on the super softs, in an attempt to reclaim first place again, but although he improved his time he was still second, just 0.061s shy of Perez’ time. With three laps including one flying lap, both Perez and Ricciardo were clearly simulating a few qualifying runs, as was Rosberg in the Mercedes.
And what was going on in the McLaren garage? Button had only completed 17 laps and scored ninth position, but he remained in the garage for the rest of the morning. Apparently McLaren had a hydraulic problem which needed to be solved in the garage, costing him valuable track time. Button commented, “When you get new parts, you want to go out and put lots of laps on it in order to compare it to what you had previously – but we weren’t able to do that today. We had a hydraulics issue in the morning, which meant we didn’t do much running.”
Raikkonen could soon join the others and with his steering problems now fixed, he started to lap the circuit on the mediums, but after completing 14 laps he was still the slowest driver on track with a time of 1m26.773s.
When the chequered flag was waved to end the morning session -- this time without red flags -- the order was: Perez, Ricciardo, Massa, di Resta, Senna, Kovalainen, Webber, Rosberg and Button and Raikkonen, who both only had completed 17 laps.
Bad news emerged just before the afternoon session was started, HRT will not have their F112 ready before Sunday and will therefore once again begin the season without any testing, although they are still hoping to get permission from the FIA to conduct what is now known as a “filming day” in Barcelona on Monday, which will give HRT hopefully the opportunity to do a proper shake-down of the car.
Most teams again spent the afternoon doing long runs with topped off fuel tanks, simulating a race and finding the right set-up for the new Pirelli rubber compounds. Button was quickly out for a short run, and moved up to sixth place on the time sheets.
The McLaren and other teams ran on unmarked tyres again as was seen yesterday as well, Pirelli explained these mysterious tyres were ‘prototypes’ but it is much more likely teams simply do not want other teams to know on what rubber compound their car performs the best. It is just two weeks until the first race of the season and teams do not want to give away too many clues to the competition.
No secrets at the Williams team as Senna went out on the soft tyres for a 15 lap run, but after those 15 laps the tyres were clearly completely worn and his lap times had dropped to the 1m34s as a result of the degradation. Also Raikkonen, di Resta, Perez and Ricciardo were doing long stints with tyre stops in between. Meanwhile Button now seemed to be more interested to take over Perez’ first place, he came very close with a lap of 1m22.103, just nine-thousands of a second off Perez’ time.
But with one and a half hour to go, the sun disappeared and raindrops were reported. All drivers decided to do a quick run before it became too wet, not surprisingly the lap times dropped down into the 1m40s on the dry weather tyres. Soon it was really raining and drivers came back to the garage again.
Ricciardo went out again on a set of intermediates, a lap of 1m43s was all he could do in the rainy conditions. But the conditions deteriorated and marshals reported hail on the circuit, and with 45 minutes left on the clock the red flag came out. Not for the hail but for Senna who had parked his Williams near Turn 10, it was decided to leave his car where it was and with 30 minutes still remaining the green flag came out again to signal it was safe to race.
Soon all went out again on the intermediates to take the most of the opportunity to drive the 2012 Formula One cars in the rain for the very first time. Perez, who was already in the lead on the dry tyres, was again fast with a lap of 1m44.181s, almost 23 seconds slower than his fastest dry run in the morning. Clearly times posted in the morning would not be improved again and the order remained the same, Perez finished the day in first spot for Sauber, Button was third for McLaren and Ricciardo third for Toro Rosso.
Barcelona test II - Day 2 results
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1m22.155||+ 0.061||130|
|4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1m22.413||+ 0.319||121|
|5||Paul di Resta||Force India||1m22.446||+ 0.352||108|
|6||Bruno Senna||Williams||1m22.480||+ 0.386||111|
|7||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham||1m22.630||+ 0.536||64|
|8||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1m22.662||+ 0.568||70|
|9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||1m22.932||+ 0.838||128|
|10||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus||1m25.379||+ 3.285||43|
All times unofficial