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Barcelona day three - Maldonado takes P1 for Williams 23 Feb 2012

Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/27 leaves the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8 practices a pit stop.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia Racing MVR-02.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 leaves the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 talks with the media.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pastor Maldonado planted Williams on the top of the Thursday timesheets as this week’s test continued at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. Maldonado posted a quickest lap of 1m 22.391s, outstripping the second-placed Mercedes of Michael Schumacher by almost a second.

Long runs and set-up work dominated Maldonado’s programme and he completed 106 laps. “It has been a very pleasing day with Pastor successfully completing his whole run plan,” said Williams’ chief operations engineer, Mark Gillan. “We started with some aerodynamic correlation runs, followed by race weekend preparation and set-up optimisation. In the background, we also ran some bodywork cooling sweeps.”

Schumacher ran on Pirelli's hard and soft tyre compounds over his 127 laps and carried out the F1 W03’s first complete race distance after lunch. “I’m very happy with the race simulation that we ran this afternoon,” said the German. “It confirmed what we have seen from the first tests with our new car, and that we don’t seem to have any big issues with reliability.

“The small things from the last two days I would rate as typical testing issues. So from my side, I am happy with our first full testing session, and we have definitely improved our game which is what we wanted to achieve. To what extent, we can only see later, but I am finishing with a positive feeling.”

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi finished third ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button. Kobayashi carried out set-up evaluations and some aero work, which included a comparison between different rear wings. He completed 99 laps.

“It was my first day of driving the new car here in Barcelona, and it was a good one,” said the Japanese driver. “We had no noteworthy problems all day and went through a lot of test items. I can feel we have made some progress compared to the test in Jerez. But, of course, we have a lot more work to do and there is room for improvement.”

Button explored a variety of set-ups on McLaren's MP4-27 in the morning over shorter runs before tackling a full race simulation in the afternoon.

“We’ve been really working hard to understand this year’s Pirelli tyres and getting the car to work efficiently around them,” said the Briton. “That’s a key part of the programme this winter. There are a lot of cars out there that look competitive: so we’ll keep pushing. We should hopefully bring our upgrade package to the next test and that will see us through to the first race in Melbourne.”

Jean-Eric Vergne was fifth for Toro Rosso. With the full race team in attendance for the first time this year, Vergne mixed his set-up evaluation work with pit-stop practice.

“It’s good to be back in the car after Jerez,” said Vergne. “We got through a lot of work today, including some aero evaluation and different set-ups. We ran all day long on the medium tyres, which gives us a good baseline to analyse the data. We are learning more about our new car with every lap and it has performed well on this Barcelona track which is always a true test of how a car is performing.

“Towards the end of the day, I had my first experience of proper Formula One pit stops. It was a scary feeling at the beginning, coming in at 100 km/h and seeing so many people. At first, I was worried about hitting someone, but by the end I had got used to it. It’s an exciting experience!”

Mark Webber in the sister Red Bull was sixth after lapping in exactly the same time of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in seventh. Although gearbox problem affected his running in the morning, Webber did complete a full race simulation.

“All in all, it wasn’t a bad day at all,” said the Australian. “Not the smoothest of mornings and we didn’t get too many laps done there, but in the afternoon the race simulation went OK. We’re still learning plenty. It would have been nice to have done a few more laps, but I think everyone always wants to get 20 or 30 more and, even with the problem this morning, there were loads of positives to look at. We’re a very ambitious team, so we’ll keep working on that.”

Massa covered 84 laps, chiefly on Pirelli’s hard tyre, and completed all the key elements of Ferrari's programme. At the end of the session he carried out a fuel ‘scavenge’ test and stopped at the end of the pit lane.

Force India’s Paul di Resta occupied the eighth slot, ahead of Marussia’s Timo Glock in his team’s 2011-spec car. Di Resta covered 83 laps on the hard and medium Pirellis, despite missing out on some track time after the VJM05 lost some bodywork.

“Quite an intense day and a very busy afternoon, but the main thing is that we achieved the objectives for the day,” said the Scot. “There will be a lot of analysing tonight to see what we can learn, especially trying to understand the data from the long runs this afternoon. It’s nice to have a car with such a good baseline because it makes it easier to experiment with the set-up and that’s what we’re trying to do at the moment.”

Glock covered 108 laps as he carried out a detailed tyre evaluation. “It’s good to be back on track again after the long winter break and to start our preparations for the new season,” said the German. “Although we are still using the old car it has been really useful to work through the tyre evaluation programme and have the team working together again trackside.”

With Lotus once again absent after chassis problems forced them to bow out of the test earlier in the week, Thursday’s final runner was Vitaly Petrov for Caterham. Petrov covered 70 laps on his second day at the wheel for his new team. Heikki Kovalainen will be back in the CT01 on Friday.

“That was a bit of a difficult day where we struggled to give Vitaly the sort of set-up he wants,” explained Steve Nielsen, Caterham sporting director. “He did a good job today to drive around a couple of basic issues we knew we would encounter, but those will be solved with new parts that are coming for the next test, and they should not affect Heikki tomorrow.

“We have saved a number of tyres up for tomorrow and that means we can run through the whole tyre program we had set for the last day of this test which means we should leave here with a better understanding of how the 2012 compounds behave and decent amount of data we can use to prepare for next week’s test.”

The Barcelona test concludes on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday test times from Barcelona:
1. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.391, 106 Laps
2. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:23.384, 127 Laps
3. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:23.582, 99 Laps
4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.918, 114 Laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:24.433, 78 Laps
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:24.771, 97 Laps
7. Felipe Masssa, Ferrari, 1:24.771, 84 Laps
8. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:25.646, 83 Laps
9. Timo Glock, Marussia*, 1:26.173, 108 Laps
10. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:26.448, 70 Laps
* 2011 car

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