Mark Webber took Red Bull Racing back to the top of the timesheets at Jerez on Friday as the rain finally let up to allow the teams some much-needed dry weather testing time.
Aftyer the two previous testing days were almost washed out with heavy rain, bright sunshine and blue skies hit Jerez on Friday morning and allowed the teams to run with slick tyres for most of the day.
Webber shaded the other drivers by almost one second, and his best time of 1:19.299 – set during one of two short sprints in between longer runs – was also faster than Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark from the first Jerez test last week.
The Australian had one minor setback with the RB6 which left him stranded on the circuit and cost him about two hours of running time. The team described it as a "small mechanical issue", and in spite of the lost track time, he still racked up 115 laps before the close of play.
Fernando Alonso was second quickest and compiled a massive 132 laps as Ferrari again impressed with its pace and reliability.
Jenson Button finished third-quickest for McLaren ahead of Williams newcomer Nico Hülkenberg – the young German amassed the day’s highest lap tally (138).
Michael Schumacher completed the top five runners in his Mercedes GP and was no doubt relieved to have some dry mileage under his belt before handing the W01 back to team-mate Nico Rosberg for the final day of the test on Saturday.
Adrian Sutil ran a combination of long and short runs as Force India worked on the set-up and weight distribution of the VJM03.
Sauber had a difficult day after a fuel system issue confined Kamui Kobayashi to the garage for the majority of the day and restricted him to just 28 laps by day’s end.
The two rookie teams present at the test – Virgin Racing and Lotus – each had challenging days at Jerez but both felt they had made significant progress.
Virgin’s Lucas di Grassi caused one-third of the day’s six red flags, first when he spun and miraculously missed the barrier in the morning and then when his VR-01 ground to a halt on the back straight during the afternoon’s running.
Meanwhile Heikki Kovalainen, whose Thursday running had been cut short when he speared into the barriers, was delayed by a clutch sensor malfunction before he even posted a timed lap on Friday morning.
But in spite of these issues, both teams consistently improved their pace during the afternoon and finished just over up 4 seconds slower than Webber; di Grassi shading Kovalainen by a tiny 0.017s.
Button heads Schumacher
Alonso’s times were consistent
Kubica was behind the wheel
Alguersuari completed 120 laps
Kovalainen’s Lotus was slowest
Di Grassi had a spin in the morning
[Images via ITV-F1]
Friday’s testing times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault||1:19.299||(115)|
|3.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:21.394||(101)|
|4.||Nico Hülkenberg||Williams Cosworth||1:21.432||(138)|
|5.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:21.437||(79)|
|7.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes||1:21.939||(69)|
|8.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:22:238||(28)|
|9.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:22.564||(120)|
|10.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:23.504||(34)|
|11.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Cosworth||1:23.521||(68)|
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