Kamui Kobayashi has taken Sauber to the top of the timesheets on the final day of Formula 1’s second pre-season test for the 2012 season. The Japanese driver’s fastest lap-time came in the final hour of running in the morning session.
Conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya were the warmest that had been seen over the four days of running at the Barcelona venue. Despite rumours that Ferrari and Red Bull Racing were both going to be absent from the day’s running, both teams were present and accounted for, with Felipe Massa and Mark Webber assuming driving duties for the respective teams.
Some of the tailender outfits had major problems on the final day of running at this test, with the Caterham team losing two-and-a-half hours’ running in the morning while an electrical issue was investigated. This was eventually identified as being in the engine, and the team elected to switch to a new Renault powerplant for the afternoon’s running.
But it was a worse situation in the Marussia garage, with the team unable to send rookie driver Charles Pic on track when it identified a problem in his right rear suspension. With the team running its older-spec car for the final team and having not produced any new spare parts for the outgoing model, it elected to pack up for the day.
Ferrari’s pre-season woes seemed to continue, with Felipe Massa assisting the team by performing a series of straight-line aerodynamic runs along the start/finish straight – the kind of work that rival outfits had been doing on the first day when track conditions were at their worst.
With most teams concentrating on set-up work and trying to run some race simulations, the day was punctuated by three stoppages. Paul di Resta brought about the first when he spun off at the Campsa right-hander just before midday, while Kobayashi and Jenson Button both simulated fuel run outs in the closing minutes of the day.
After several drivers took turns on top of the timing boards in the morning, Kobayashi popped up to the top with his late-morning effort on Pirelli’s Super Soft rubber. As the afternoon wore on and teams concentrated on longer runs, his time would not be threatened.
Having ended the third day’s running as the quickest driver of the day, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado wound up second-quickest, a quarter of a second off Kobayashi – the Venezuelan racked up a total of 134 laps in his Renault-powered FW34.
Third-quickest honours went to Paul di Resta, who was the only driver (aside from Heikki Kovalainen) to improve on his morning’s quickest time with a late dash to snatch the position from Jenson Button, whose best time had come on harder tyres in the morning.
When Felipe Massa concentrated on stringing some laps together, he wound up fourth-fastest in his Ferrari, while Mark Webber had a relatively quiet day in the Red Bull and finished two-tenths slower on the stopwatch.
Jean-Éric Vergne finished just fractions slower than Webber to claim seventh on the timesheets, and was just five-hundredths of a second quicker than Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes AMG – the German racking up a massive 139 laps over the day’s running.
The teams now pack up and make a brief return to their factories before they return for the final pre-season test at Barcelona in just five days time. This time, the test session will be run over a five-day period, with teams entitled to run in up to four of these scheduled days.
The final session times were as follows:
|1.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:22.312||145|
|2.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||+ 0.249||134|
|3.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||+ 0.807||101|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||+ 0.888||115|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||+ 1.251||103|
|6.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||+ 1.462||85|
|7.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||+ 1.480||92|
|8.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||+ 1.531||139|
|9.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||+ 4.656||70|
|10.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing MVR02*||no time||0|
* Denotes 2011 car