Kobayashi Jerez

Kamui Kobayashi topped the Thursday timesheets at Jerez with a low-fuel flying lap in his Sauber-Ferrari just minutes before testing ended for the day.

The Japanese driver posted a 1:19.950 lap to overtake Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi, who had impressively set the pace for much of the day.

Kobayashi spent much of the day in the middle of the order on longer-fuel runs but vaulted to the top in a late, light-fuel run.

Much-improved weather conditions allowed the teams to make up for lost track time during the previous day’s heavy rainfall, and most took full advantage by logging in excess of 80 laps at the former venue of the European Grand Prix.

With the unknown factor in pre-season testing being fuel loads, in a context this year’s cars have a fuel tank capacity of 160kg, this makes the testing times difficult to interpret. Teams may opt to run a variety of fuel strategies and programs, and it has been known for teams seeking additional sponsorship to run with little weight in the car…

For what it’s worth, Jenson Button was third-quickest in the McLaren ahead of Nico Hülkenberg’s Williams and Vitantonio Liuzzi in the Force India.

Button stopped near the end of day’s running after a cockpit warning light came on, but had an otherwise productive day in the MP4-25 conducting a mixture of set-up and tyre evaluation work.

Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso may have been just sixth and seventh respectively, but both spent a large part of the day conducting long runs on heavy fuel loads, and each notched up well over 100 laps in their day’s running.

Alonso’s long-run pace was particularly impressive, with double world champion setting times in the high-1:21 range near the end of a huge 48-lap stint, clearly quicker than some of his rivals managed on shorter runs.

Hülkenberg’s programme was more severely compromised by technical gremlins in the Williams-Cosworth, which developed a messy hydraulic leak in the morning and later a driveshaft problem, but was quick when the car was actually running. Let’s hope this is not an omen of things to come for Williams in 2010!

With more rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, Renault put Robert Kubica in its R30 car given Vitaly Petrov still hadn’t paid up to get as much feedback as possible in Thursday’s dry conditions.

The dry weather also allowed Mark Webber to put Red Bull’s RB6 through its paces after mechanical problems yesterday, with the Australian completing 100 laps.

Timo Glock, by contrast, managed only 11 laps in the Virgin-Cosworth to add to his five exploratory laps on Wednesday.

The German caused a red flag during the morning when the VR-01 deposited its front wing on the circuit due to a faulty mounting.

The team abandoned its running for the day while it awaited the arrival of new parts, but hopes to rejoin the fray first thing on Friday morning.

Thursday’s testing times:

1. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 1:19.950 (103 laps)
2. Sébastien  Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:20.026 (121)
3. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 1:20.618 (83)
4. Nico Hülkenberg Williams Cosworth 1:20.629 (67)
5. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 1:20.754 (80)
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:21.083 (124)
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:21.424 (129)
8. Robert Kubica Renault 1:22.003 (103)
9. Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 1:22.043 (99)
10. Timo Glock Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:29.964 (11)

[Image via Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.