Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has led the way in a busy second day of Formula 1 pre-season testing at Jerez, posting a fastest time over one second quicker than Lotus’ F1 returnee Kimi Räikkönen had managed the day before.
The German, driving Mercedes’ 2011 challenger, clocked up a mammoth 132 laps, to help the team rack up as much data and mileage about Pirelli’s new 2012 tyres, in order to help the team in its final stages of producing its new car. His best time – a 1:18.561 – was posted in the morning’s running, and it proved completely untouchable by any of the day’s other eleven runners.
Fortunately the snow and heavy rain that has hit much of Europe stayed well clear of the Andalucía region, with conditions remaining tray, albeit considerably colder than yesterday with a peak ambient of just 12°C (54°C) – well down on the 20°C recorded the day before.
The morning’s running had most of the quicker lap times recorded, before several teams elected to concentrate on longer runs to understand the durability of the new Pirelli rubber.
But the day also contained a couple of new features: Caterham ran KERS for the first time with Heikki Kovalainen at the wheel, while Force India opted to change its driver line-up overnight, giving its newly-appointed reserve driver Jules Bianchi some mileage in its VJM05. The Frenchman finished the day fourth-quickest after 46 laps’ running in the morning.
Räikkönen triggered a couple of the day’s red flags as he set about exploring the limits in his Lotus, with the first coming just half an hour after the pit lane opened when he sprayed gravel onto the track’s surface after a minor off. He would spin off the track again at the close of play, bringing about an end to the day’s proceedings. He ended the day fifth-quickest, sandwiched by the Force India pairing.
Second-quickest on the day – and fastest runner so far in a 2012 car – was Mark Webber, who clocked up just under 100 laps in his Red Bull RB8, while his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo ended up third-fastest in the Toro Rosso, completing 100 trouble-free laps. Both drivers’ best lap times were posted in the morning’s running when track conditions were seemingly at the best.
Again giving little opportunity to show whatever outright pace supposedly lies in their new cars, Ferrari and McLaren were again down the timesheets. But there is growing speculation that Ferrari’s ugly-looking F2012 is not particularly quick; the team broke out the flow-vis paint once again, and a concerned Felipe Massa later admitted that the team has a long road ahead of it to be a front-running car by the start of the season at Melbourne in just five weeks time.
Jenson Button was a quarter of a second off Massa’s best and eighth-fastest, while Sergio Pérez had his first outing in the Sauber. Sporting a new day-glow helmet design, the Mexican finished up ninth-fastest.
Pastor Maldonado finished tenth-fastest in his Williams FW34, racking up 97 laps after the team’s loss of track time the day before, courtesy of a sequence of gremlins hitting the new FW34 on its first day’s running.
Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa brought up the rear in the Caterham and HRT challengers. Kovalainen racked up the most laps of the day as he set about getting to grips with the car’s Red Bull-designed KERS unit, while de la Rosa was slowest of all in his older-spec HRT F111, clocking up 64 laps. The Spanish squad now packs up and heads back to its headquarters to finalise the assembly of its F112 challenger, which it hopes to run at the next pre-season test in Barcelona.
The final session times were as follows:
|1.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 Team W02*||+ 1:18.561||132|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||+ 0.623||97|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||+ 1.026||100|
|4.||Jules Bianchi||Force India Mercedes VJM05||+ 1.660||46|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus Renault E20||+ 1.678||117|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||+ 1.711||69|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||+ 1.893||95|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||+ 2.127||85|
|9.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||+ 2.150||68|
|10.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||+ 2.636||97|
|11.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||+ 2.957||139|
|12.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT Cosworth F111*||+ 3.567||64|
* Denotes 2011 car