Following nine days of pre-season testing which saw nine different drivers top the timesheets, Romain Grosjean has become the first driver to be the fastest driver on two different 2013 pre-season test sessions.
The Frenchman took advantage of a break between rain showers to beat Jenson Button to top spot by almost half a second.
More overnight rain gave the drivers and teams near-identical conditions to those faced the day before at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Wet-weather and intermediate tyres were once again the order of the morning’s running as the drivers worked to clear the circuit of its surface water and create a dry running line.
A couple of drivers were caught out by the conditions – including Sebastian Vettel, who took a trip through the gravel – but the times steadily dropped as track conditions improved, necessitating a switch to the dry-weather Pirelli tyres.
Behind second-placed Button, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was third-quickest. The Venezuelan was a late call-up to drive on Friday, with the team opting to switch its schedule around to give the less-experienced Valtteri Bottas more time behind the wheel in the dry weather that is forecast for the weekend.
Despite triggering a late red flag with a stoppage at the first corner, Maldonado still did enough to beat Vettel into third place on the timesheets. Vettel – who is yet to post the fastest overall time in any of the pre-season tests this year – spent his day trialling a new passive DRS design on the RB9.
The design aims to improve the car’s top-end speed – an area where the team has historically struggled – by ‘stalling’ the airflow around the rear wing.
Fellow Germans Nico Hülkenberg and Adrian Sutil were next up for Sauber and Force India, respectively, with the latter performing well and showing good fitness despite his limited F1 mileage over the past 15 months.
Daniel Ricciardo finished the day seventh-quickest in the Toro Rosso, getting his first chance to try out a host of small upgrades the Faenza team had developed for the Ferrari-powered STR8.
He out-paced Marussia rookie Max Chilton by one-tenth of a second, with the Englishman finishing an impressive 2.8 seconds off Grosjean’s pacesetting time at the end of the day. Again, he finished quicker than their nearest rival Caterham, who opted to abandon their controversial exhaust design at the behest of the FIA.
The bottom of the timesheets were occupied by the two manufacturer teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, who spent their day focusing on longer runs with their respective pilots Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso.
The penultimate day of pre-season testing kicks off on Saturday at 09:00AM local time (GMT +1).
2013 Barcelona Pre-Season Test – Day 6 Session Times:
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:22.716||88||S|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||+ 0.465||72||M|
|3.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||+ 0.912||75||S|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||+ 1.027||65||M|
|5.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||+ 1.028||79||M|
|6.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||+ 1.499||62||M|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||+ 2.767||61||S|
|8.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||+ 2.882||75||S|
|9.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||+ 3.600||48||M|
|10.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1W04||+ 3.939||120||M|
|11.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||+ 5.162||102||M|