Kimi Räikkönen has closed out the final day of the opening Formula 1 pre-season test with the fastest time of an interrupted day’s running at the Jerez circuit. The Finn narrowly edged out Force India reserve driver for top spot by just 0.027 seconds.
But Räikkönen’s time was not quick enough to displace Felipe Massa from top spot overall, after the Brazilian’s session-topping effort from the day before.
Clear and sunny conditions once again greeted the eleven teams when the Andalucían circuit opened for business, giving the teams perfect conditions in which to complete the first of three four-day test events before the field gets racing at the Australian Grand Prix next month.
That’s of course assuming that the cars want to play the same game. Sadly, the Ferrari F138 had other ideas for Pedro de la Rosa, catching fire just two laps into his first ever run for the Italian team. After the flames were doused and the damaged car returned to the pits, the team diagnosed a gearbox fault which left him confined to the pits until the mid-afternoon before the repairs were complete.
De la Rosa wasn’t the only trigger for a session stoppage, with the Spanish circuit playing its own starring role in Friday’s proceedings. During the lunch break, circuit officials discovered that a slab of concrete had broken loose on the exit kerbing between Turns 9 and 10. Over an hour’s running was lost while track workers sought a repair solution, which ultimately came in the form of some poured quick-dry cement.
Officials ultimately opted to extend the day’s running by an extra half-hour, and when the action got going, Bianchi kicked off from how he ran his morning session by remaining atop the timesheets.
That was, however, until Räikkönen came along with a short run on Pirelli’s soft tyre compound. The Finn delivered a best lap of 1:18.148 to knock Bianchi off the top spot, before the Frenchman handed over the reins to Paul di Resta, no doubt hoping that his efforts would prove enough to land him the final seat on the grid with the Silverstone-based team.
Fourth-fastest was Esteban Gutiérrez, who racked up the equivalent of two Grand Prix distances in his Sauber as he continued to familiarise himself with the 2013 Pirelli tyres. The Mexican spent much of the day performing long-distance runs.
Lewis Hamilton was another to clock up a huge amount of miles after his shortened first day in the Mercedes F1W04 (when he crashed out with a brake failure after barely a dozen laps). The Englishman finished sixth-quickest overall in his new machine, just over 0.15 seconds slower than Jean-Éric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.
New McLaren signing Sergio Pérez continued his familiarisation with the MP4-28, winding up just 0.05 seconds slower than the man he replaced in the Woking team.
Just over a second slower than the Mexican was Williams rookie Valtteri Bottas, who was the final runner to dip under the 1m20s barrier as he had another day behind the team’s 2012 car, the FW34. The Grove squad will take the covers off its 2013 design, the FW35, on the opening morning of the next pre-season test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, which runs from February 19-22.
2013 Jerez Pre-Season Test – Day 4 Session Times:
|1.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:18.148||83|
|2.||Jules Bianchi||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:18.175||+ 0.027||56|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:18.565||+ 0.417||96|
|4.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:18.669||+ 0.521||142|
|5.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:18.760||+ 0.612||92|
|6.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG F1W04||1:18.905||+ 0.757||145|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:18.944||+ 0.796||98|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW34||1:19.851||+ 1.703||92|
|9.||Pedro de la Rosa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:20.316||+ 2.168||51|
|10.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT01||1:21.105||+ 2.957||109|
|11.||Luiz Razia||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:21.226||+ 3.078||82|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:23.435||+ 5.287||49|