Barcelona day three - Perez fastest as rain hits Spain 03 Mar 2012
On a day that saw the teams get their first taste of Pirellis 2012-spec wet-weather tyres, it was Saubers Sergio Perez who topped the times. Perezs best of 1m 22.094s - set in the morning before rain arrived - put him less than a tenth clear of McLarens Jenson Button and Toro Rossos Daniel Ricciardo.
I am very happy with how my final test day went, said Perez, who hands over to team mate Kamui Kobayashi for Sunday. We did an intensive programme with qualifying and race preparation, which was important to do.
I think we have demonstrated that the car has developed well over the testing period. The team has made the most out of all the information we have collected and certainly is in good shape. Also personally I feel ready for Melbourne.
Button was charged with evaluating the new race package McLaren intend to use in Australia later this month. The team spent the morning successfully installing and understanding a suite of new aero components, though this was interrupted by a hydraulics issue which kept the MP4-27 in the garage until after the lunch break.
When you get new parts, you want to go out and put lots of laps on it in order to compare it to what you had previously - but we werent able to do that today, confirmed Button. So it wasnt the easiest morning - and then we didnt do much running in the afternoon either because of the rain.
We put a couple of good laps in but didnt get any set-up work done. It was nice to drive the new package, and I have a good feeling about it, but I need to work with it for a bit longer to find the right balance for it. Hopefully, Lewis [Hamilton] will put some more laps on the car tomorrow.
Ricciardo had a varied programme at the wheel of the Toro Rosso, evaluating some aero developments in the morning, before tackling a full race simulation in the afternoon.
A good day with my highest number of kilometres of the season, which is perfect preparation for Melbourne, said the Australian. I enjoyed the race simulation and we treated it like a real race when the rain came, with my engineer asking me on the radio to make the call about when to come in for tyres and which ones to fit. So it was good to have to make decisions and also to experience Pirellis intermediates and rain tyres.
Felipe Massa was fourth fastest for Ferrari, the Brazilian carrying out a series of set-up tests with the F2012 in the morning and a Grand Prix simulation in the afternoon, followed by Force Indias Paul di Resta, who also put in a full race distance in the VJM05.
Its good to get an impression of the car during continuous running and also to try and replicate the tyre compounds we expect to use in Melbourne, said Di Resta. Weve identified some more areas where we can improve in terms of balance, so thats something to work on overnight before Nico [Hulkenberg] gets in the car.
At Williams, Bruno Senna was upbeat after putting another 100 laps-plus on the FW34 and finishing an encouraging sixth in the times.
Today was a very good day, said the Brazilian. We completed some runs on lower fuel, which I hadnt done before, using all the different tyre compounds. I was then able to do a full race simulation this afternoon, to learn more about the car and tyres in a race situation.
We have a lot of valuable information to look at now, which will enable us to improve for next time. Unfortunately we had to cut our race simulation a bit short due to the rain. However, we still met all our objectives for the day.
Heikki Kovalainen was seventh for Caterham, the Finn testing a couple of new parts on the CT01 in the morning, ahead of Mark Webber who was running a new chassis and development components on a heavily revised Red Bull RB8.
We had a pretty good run today and once again we learned a lot, said Webber. I have to say the car was not massively different to the one I drove on Thursday. We went through our normal programme, nothing drastic happened, and we just keep working away. It would have been nice to have a few more laps today but then again we didnt have a race simulation planned, so the rain didnt really hurt us.
At Mercedes, ninth-fastest Nico Rosberg was confident the team are in good shape for Australia as he completed his last day of testing the F1 W03, which he now hands over to Michael Schumacher.
"I'm happy with my pre-season testing programme, and I believe that we have made a step forward from last year, said the German. I have been able to achieve a lot of mileage which shows that the car is very reliable, and as a driver, I feel ready now for the first race in Melbourne.
Kimi Raikkonen completed the line-up after a disrupted day for Lotus, whose programme was hindered by both the weather and technical issues.
We were hampered by power steering issues in the morning, which took some time to rectify, explained Alan Permane, Lotuss trackside operations director. Once on track, we steadily improved the car balance through the day. We opted not to run in the rain which meant we completed fewer laps today than would otherwise have been the case.
Pre-season testing concludes at Barcelona on Sunday, when HRT had hoped to debut their new car. However, the Spanish team have failed to ready the F112 in time, though they may reportedly carry out some running with it on Monday for filming purposes.
Unofficial Saturday test times from Barcelona:
1. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:22.094, 114 Laps
2. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:22.103, 44 Laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:22.155, 131 Laps
4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.413, 122 Laps
5. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:22.446, 108 Laps
6. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:22.480, 111 Laps
7. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:22.630, 64 Laps
8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:22.662, 70 Laps
9. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:22.932, 129 Laps
10. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:25.379, 43 Laps
For tickets and travel to 2012 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.