Pastor Maldonado and the Williams team took an unexpected turn atop the timesheets on the penultimate day of the second of this year’s pre-season tests. The Venezuelan had his first outing of this test session for the Grove team at this test, and his best effort came late in the morning.
His result was a huge surprise given the team’s public admission that the FW34’s slow-corner handling was no up to par, and it’s important to note that each team is running set programmes with fuel levels kept top secret. Let’s not forget that Rubens Barrichello took last year’s lamentable FW33 challenger to the top of the timesheets in last year’s pre-season tests, so read into this most recent result what you will…
While conditions were again chilly when the Circuit de Catalunya opened for business, temperatures steadily climbed over the course of the day, hitting a very pleasant 21°C (70°F) in the afternoon.
As track temperatures rose, lap-times dropped as the teams focused on longer runs, and only Vitaly Petrov was able to improve on his morning’s best time, with his 1:26.448 coming in the final fifteen minutes, courtesy of a late switch to Pirelli’s Super Soft tyres.
Indeed, longer runs and reliability tests were on the cards for most of the teams, with four drivers clocking up over 100 laps each.
Second-quickest on the timesheets was Michael Schumacher in Mercedes’ new W03 challenger, with the German delivering a monster 59-lap stint in the afternoon.
Kamui Kobayashi landed up third-quickest in his Sauber, while Jenson Button was fourth-fastest on his first outing at this test session in his McLaren. The only other driver to post a fastest lap under the 1m24s barrier, Button racked up 74 laps over the day, largely concentrating on shorter stints of around ten laps.
Jean-Éric Vergne was fifth-quickest in the Toro Rosso, fractionally ahead of Mark Webber and Felipe Massa, who posted identical quickest times in their Red Bull and and Ferrari entries, respectively. For Massa, it was the quickest lap posted by the Ferrari F2012 at the circuit so far.
Two-and-a-half hours into the day’s proceedings, the first red flag was flown when Paul di Resta’s Force India shed its engine cover as he raced down the start/finish straight.
Half an hour later, Timo Glock had a spin in his 2011-spec Marussia Racing entry on his sole day of running at this test.
The third stoppage came when Kobayashi parked his Sauber with a few minutes to go before the lunch break; the Swiss team was attempting to simulate running out of fuel. The final stoppage came when Mark Webber parked pulled over with half an hour to run at Turn 8; it was believed that his stoppage was for the same reason.
The final session times were as follows:
|1.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:22.391||106|
|2.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||+ 0.993||127|
|3.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||+ 1.191||99|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||+ 1.527||114|
|5.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||+ 2.042||78|
|6.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||+ 2.380||84|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||+ 2.380||84|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||+ 3.255||83|
|9.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing MVR02*||+ 3.782||108|
|10.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||+ 4.057||70|
* Denotes 2011 car