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Barcelona day four - Raikkonen ends on a high 04 Mar 2012

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 front wing detail.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012

The final pre-season test of 2012 concluded in Spain on Sunday, with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen setting the pace. Less than half a second covered the top six at the Circuit de Catalunya, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso second and Williams’ Bruno Senna third.

Raikkonen’s 1m 22.030s lap was the fastest set over this year’s two sessions at the 4.7 kilometre track. The Finn also completed the greatest distance on Sunday, with 121 laps at the wheel of the E20.

“I was happy with today’s running,” said Raikkonen. “We didn’t have any major issues so it was certainly better than yesterday. Everything worked, we tried a lot of set-ups on the car and it all came together well. It was a long time in the car today but I feel fine. It was cooler today so the tyres didn’t work as well as otherwise but everything was okay.

“Of course, the fastest time at the end of the day looks good but no-one will know how fast any of the cars are until we get to qualifying at Albert Park. All the changes we have made over testing have been improving the car, so we’ll have to see what happens in Melbourne in a couple of weeks’ time. I’m feeling positive.”

Alonso had a routine day of tyre and set-up work with Ferrari’s F2012, carrying out both long and short runs, while Senna was sure Williams are in good shape for Australia after trying their first race update package during his morning outing. Team mate Pastor Maldonado took over the FW34 for the afternoon and finished the day ninth.

Force India were again right in the mix with Nico Hulkenberg fourth in the VJM05, while at Sauber, Kamui Kobayashi was content with fifth place despite his session ending 90 minutes early due to an engine problem.

“These things happen, but I am still happy with our achievements,” said the Japanese driver. “We did a lot of work to learn about the huge variety of set-up and aero options the new car offers. I think performance wise we are looking fine and our simulation work for racing was really good. I feel confident, well and fit - and I think we could race tomorrow if we had to.”

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was sixth fastest as he continued testing the team’s proposed race-one aerodynamic upgrade. The MP4-27 suffered a small hydraulic leak at the end of the day, but as it coincided with a late-afternoon rain shower, it meant the team lost little significant running.

Seventh place fell to Caterham’s new signing Vitaly Petrov and chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was in upbeat mood after a trouble-free day with the CT01.

"We have had a very good final week of testing,” he commented. “Both drivers have made the sort of progress we targeted, particularly Vitaly who had his proper race seat today and is starting to find a balance he can really use. We still have some work to do to help him optimise the braking system, but that is about fine tuning his setup and I am sure we can have that ready for him in Melbourne.

"We can also be pleased that in the two key areas of reliability and performance we have been able to achieve what we set out to. The car has run pretty much faultlessly all week and we are starting to unlock the performance that we know this car can deliver. It looks like the midfield teams will be very tightly packed this year, and while we know the times from the tests do not tell the whole story, it does look like we have made a step from last year.”

Michael Schumacher was also looking forward to Australia after Mercedes’ F1 W03 completed its second test session in promising fashion, the German ending the day eighth fastest.

“We are very happy with all the work we have been able to achieve, covering a lot of kilometres and learning a lot about our car which gives us a good basis to work from,” said Schumacher. “The car felt good from the very beginning, and we have managed to improve it over the test days, so I think we can say that we are very well prepared.”

In an unusual twist, the two Red Bull teams were to be found at the bottom of the times, with Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo 10th and world champion Sebastian Vettel 11th. Ricciardo had a busy time in the STR7, completing 100 laps, but Vettel managed just 23 in the RB8.

“I’d love to be able to say more about today, but this morning I had an issue, I went off track and broke the front wing and had to come in,” Vettel said. “It took quite a while to get back out and then just before lunch we had a problem with the gearbox so it upset the whole day. After that there wasn’t much we could constructively do.

“To be honest, it wouldn’t be fair to judge the updates we have, as I didn’t get many laps today. I think yesterday was quite a decent step and it was a good day for Mark [Webber], so we’ll take what we can from that.”

With official testing complete, the next time an F1 car will turn a wheel in anger will be in opening practice for the Australian Grand Prix on March 16-18. There will still be some action in Barcelona on Monday, however, as HRT use a filming day to debut their 2012 car, the F112.

Unofficial Sunday test times from Barcelona:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:22.030, 121 Laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:22.250, 115 Laps
3. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:22.296, 53 Laps
4. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:22.312, 101 Laps
5. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:22.386, 72 Laps
6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.430, 115 Laps
7. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:22.795, 101 Laps
8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:22.939, 100 Laps
9. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:23.347, 48 Laps
10. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.393, 100 Laps
11. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.608, 23 Laps

Unofficial aggregate test times from Barcelona:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:22.030, 164 Laps
2. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:22.094, 232 Laps
3. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:22.103, 108 Laps
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:22.155, 231 Laps
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:22.250, 240 Laps
6. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:22.296, 212 Laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:22.312, 137 Laps
8. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:22.386, 149 Laps
9. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.413, 227 Laps
10. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.430, 180 Laps
11. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:22.446, 206 Laps
12. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.614, 197 Laps
13. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:22.630, 168 Laps
14. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:22.662, 172 Laps
15. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:22.795, 224 Laps
16. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:22.932, 257 Laps
17. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:22.939, 179 Laps
18. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.126, 158 Laps
19. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:23.347, 126 Laps
20. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.361, 108 Laps

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