Seven up created by Maldonado
SEVEN days of official pre-season testing have taken place and now, seven different drivers have ended days topping the timesheets. The trend was continued in Barcelona today by a surprise package, in the form of Pastor Maldonado.
Maldonado, who only scored one point in a trying rookie season last year, set a searing pace of 1.22.391, the fastest time of the week. To prove how quick it was, second fastest Michael Schumacher was nearly a full second behind the Venezuelan in his Williams Renault. He joins Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Schumacher amongst others to end a day as the fastest driver.
Although some will say that Maldonado did his time on fresh rubber and low fuel, he was very quick all day and dominanted the afternoon session, with a string of fastest laps. Upto this point, the Williams chassis had shown excellent reliability, but Bruno Senna, Maldonado and Juan Bottas had failed to trouble the pacesetters in any test so far. Many of the other teams still seem to be experimenting with car setups and race simulations, but Schumacher will be delighted to not only end second quickest, but to do 127 laps, without any reliability glitches. The new Mercedes GP looks like a dangerous contender from early reflections.
Both Red Bull Racing and Ferrari suffered late mechanical breakdowns. Mark Webber’s day was curtailed when he stopped out on track with half an hour of the day to go exiting turn eight. Felipe Massa’s running was restricted by mechancial issues all day. There is no doubt that concerns are being raised in the press about the performance of the new Ferrari. The car is looking slow, inconsistent and unreliable. Yesterday, Alonso admitted that the team were “not where they wanted to be.”
Caterham encoutered more suspension problems this morning, but Vitaly Petrov bounced back to get some useful track data and 70 more laps. However, it did give Marussia a bonus, as Timo Glock was able to end up with a quicker overall lap time in a 2011 car. Marussia won’t reveal their 2012 challenger until next week. Meanwhile, Lotus have applied for an extra day of private testing after the problems on Tuesday that curtailed their action this weekend. It is believed that all the teams have provisonally agreed to this, although it is still awaiting final confirmation from the FIA.
This week’s activities conclude tomorrow, with one more week test in Barcelona before the teams fly to Melbourne for the season opener in a little over three weeks time.
TESTING TIMES FROM BARCELONA – DAY 3
1. Pastor Maldonado (Williams Renault) 1.22.391 – 106 laps
2. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) 1.23.384 – 127 laps
3. Kamur Koabyashi (Sauber Ferrari) 1.23.582 – 99 laps
4. Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes) 1.23.918 – 114 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne (Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari) 1.24.433 – 78 laps
6. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault) 1.24.771 – 97 laps
7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1.24.771 -84 laps
8. Paul di Resta (Force India Mercedes) 1.25.646 – 83 laps
9. Timo Glock (Marussia Cosworth) 1.26.173 – 108 laps
10. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham Renault) 1.26.448 – 70 laps