Sauber rookie Sergio Pérez has made a surprise appearance at the top of the timesheets on the third day’s running of the final pre-season test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

The Mexican’s fastest time – a lap time of 1:21.761 and faster than the best time set by Sergio Perez went quickest on the third day of the final pre-season test at BarcelonaSebastian Vettel the day before – was posted in a low-fuel qualifying-style simulation, but his pace was still pretty rapid irrespective of this being the case.

Felipe Massa notched up an impressive 132 laps – the equivalent of two race distances here – to finish second-quickest, while Mark Webber managed third-fastest for Red Bull.

Ten of the 2011 grid’s twelve teams were in action on Day 3, with Hispania Racing set to debut its F111 contender on Friday and McLaren missing a day’s running in exchange for running on Saturday, with the Woking squad waiting for last-minute parts to be shipped to Barcelona.

Conditions were the sunniest seen yet for this test session, although ambient temperatures of just 9°C (48°F) were well lower than what tyre supplier Pirelli would have hoped for when the action kicked off at 9am local time. Temperatures climbed steadily during the day, with ambient temperatures hitting 16°C (61°F), while the track surface peaked at 30°C (86°F).

Importantly for many teams, the day was interrupted by fewer red flags, allowing many to complete all-important race simulations. The offenders were Jérôme d’Ambrosio, who parked his Virgin Racing MVR-02 on the pit straight shortly before 10am, while Rubens Barrichello stopped his Williams with just three minutes to go before the customary one-hour lunch break at 1pm.

The Brazilian would cause another stoppage with half an hour of the day to go, and almost as soon as he had been cleared away, Pérez stopped at the exit of pit lane.

At the pointy end of the timesheets, Massa finished second-fastest, with his best effort just 0.331 seconds slower than Pérez’s fastest lap, and this was also achieved on a qualifying-style run.

Felipe Massa Mark Webber
Ferrari and Red Bull continued to occupy positions at the sharp end of the timesheets

Third-quickest Webber posted his quickest lap on a five-lap run, set at a time when Red Bull and Ferrari were running similar qualifying-style simulations. More interestingly, both cars and drivers were posting simular lap times during this phase of play.

Fourth-quickest Barrichello managed to cover over 100 laps on the day and his fastest time was also set on a qualifying-style run.

Similarly, Mercedes GP’s best result came with a short stint for Michael Schumacher, although the German largely ran with heavier fuel loads in the morning as the team analysed the revised exhaust layout for the W02 chassis. Later on, more development parts were fitted to the silver car as the team continues its aggressive development battle.

Renault split its running between Nick Heidfeld – since seemingly recovered from his cold – and Vitaly Petrov, with the Russian running in the morning but limited in his laps due to a KERS problem. Heidfeld took over for the afternoon, clocking up 32 laps en Jarno Trulli lost plenty of mileage with a gearbox problemroute to sixth-fastest.

Splitting the Renault pairing was Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus T128, who clocked up 40 laps despite losing time have a replacement radiator fitted. Team-mate Jarno Trulli was to run in the morning, but he only managed six laps before his gearbox needed replacing.

Force India, Toro Rosso and Virgin Racing remained at the bottom of the timesheets, with these outfits concentrating on longer runs for much of the day.


Final Barcelona Pre-Season Test (Day 3) Lap Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 1:21.761 95
2. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.331 132
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 + 0.705 97
4. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 0.876 105
5. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 1.131 89
6. Nick Heidfeld DEU Renault R31 + 1.780 32
7. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 2.229 40
8. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 2.472 24
9. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.573 108
10. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 3.018 107
11. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 5.575 96
12. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 12.724 6

[Original images via GP Update, LAT and 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.