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Barcelona day four - Kobayashi leads final day 24 Feb 2012

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/27 in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012 pushed back in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 24 February 2012

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi set the pace in Barcelona on Friday as this week’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya drew to a close. The Japanese driver was two-tenths quicker than Thursday leader Pastor Maldonado, who had another encouraging session for Williams.

“It was another positive test day for us,” said Sauber’s Giampaolo Dall’Ara, the Swiss team’s head of track engineering. “We started in the morning with some further aero comparisons and set-up work. Before lunch Kamui did qualifying runs. Qualifying was actually a weakness of ours in the last two seasons and we have to resolve this. This obviously requires proper practice.

“Kamui started with the medium [tyre] compound before he used two sets of soft tyres, and in the end he got his first taste of the 2012 super-soft compound. He did his fastest lap on the second set of softs. This lap time now stands as the overall fastest for this week, but of course this doesn’t mean much because proper comparisons are never possible during testing with each team running different programmes. In the afternoon we did longer runs for race preparation.”

Williams were also upbeat after Maldonado continued to set competitive times in the Renault-powered FW34. “We've had a really productive day's testing to end an excellent couple of weeks,” said Mark Gillan, the team’s chief operations engineer. “Today Pastor went through a competitive race simulation and both the car and he performed very well, ending the day with some long run comparisons. We have gathered a prodigious amount of data over more than 3500kms of testing and we will now regroup back at the factory to understand how to further improve the set-up and development direction ahead of the next Barcelona test.”

Paul di Resta was third fastest for Force India, after what the Scot described as another successful day in the VJM05. “I had a small trip through the gravel in the morning, but nothing that caused too much of an issue, although we lost half an hour of running,” he explained. “The important thing is that we still managed to do our long runs in the afternoon and I could feel the changes we made compared to yesterday. It’s given me a good impression of the car’s balance and consistency, and we’ve seen that our long run pace is improving step by step.”

Di Resta was followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Red Bull’s Mark Webber, all of whom reported largely trouble-free running. The Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham completed the timesheet.

Vergne was pleased with progress after Toro Rosso’s second test with the STR7: “I am much more confident in the car now than I was by the end of the Jerez test. We worked on many different aspects of the job and for example, today I had a much better understanding of the pit stops than I did after trying them yesterday for the first time. We did some good work today, acquiring plenty of data and I expect this will help us to improve still further next week.”

Having chosen not to launch their 2012 car at the first Jerez test, Rosberg was pleased with what Mercedes have achieved with their new machine this week: "After our first full test with the F1 W03, I can see that we are making good steps forward. Our test programme went well this week and we have made evident progress each day. In terms of reliability, the car is performing pretty much as we expected which is really important as we can concentrate on improving the performance.

“Of course it's difficult at this stage to predict how we will fare in race conditions against our competitors but overall I'm pleased with the start that we have made. I'm looking forward to the final test next week before the season begins, and continuing our learning with our F1 W03."

At Caterham, Kovalainen was hit by more technical issues at the end of a difficult week for the team. "This is the sort of test you look back on and think we're pleased to have got behind us, but we have still learnt a lot here and have ironed out quite a few issues that could have been more serious later in the season," said the Finn.

"Things haven't exactly gone as we would have liked, but I think we all know where the car can and should be when it gets real in Australia, so now the challenge is to regroup in time for next week and make sure we come back here ready to put in a final week of hard work on track and get back to where we want to be."

Marussia were due to run Charles Pic in the 2011-spec MVR02 on Friday, but the Frenchman completed zero mileage after the team were unable to find the cause of a damaged suspension component discovered on the car’s right-rear corner at the start of the day.

“It’s a real shame that after three very positive days with the car we’ve encountered this issue on the final day,” said team principal John Booth. “We can’t be too downhearted though, having achieved over 1500kms of near faultless running from a car that has served us so well from a reliability perspective.

“Aside from further mileage for Charles there was nothing more to be gained from our programme to aid our development and we now switch focus to the 2012 car, which we are all looking forward to rolling out next week.”

The third and final pre-season test will again be a four-day session in Barcelona, from March 1-4.

Unofficial Friday test times from Barcelona:
1. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:22.312, 145 Laps
2. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.561, 134 Laps
3. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:23.119, 101 Laps
4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.200, 115 Laps
5. Felipe Masssa, Ferrari, 1:23.563, 103 Laps
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.774, 85 Laps
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.792, 92 Laps
8. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:23.843, 139 Laps
9. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:26.968, 70 Laps

Unofficial aggregate test times from Barcelona:
1. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:22.312, 244 Laps
2. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.391, 240 Laps
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:22.608, 191 Laps
4. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:22.648, 151 Laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.891, 183 Laps
6. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:23.119, 184 Laps
7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:23.180, 162 Laps
8. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.200, 229 Laps
9. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:23.384, 178 Laps
10. Felipe Masssa, Ferrari, 1:23.563, 187 Laps
11. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.590, 234 Laps
12. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.618, 126 Laps
13. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.774, 182 Laps
14. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.792, 170 Laps
15. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:23.843, 221 Laps
16. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:25.711, 97 Laps
17. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:25.738, 117 Laps
18. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:26.035, 101 Laps
19. Timo Glock, Marussia*, 1:26.173, 108 Laps
20. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:26.448, 178 Laps
21. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1: 26.809s, 7 Laps
22. Charles Pic, Marussia*, 1:27.343, 228 Laps
* 2011 car

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