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Barcelona day four - Mercedes ahead as pre-season testing ends 03 Mar 2013

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 1 March 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham CT03 makes a pit stop.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 3 March 2013

Mercedes again led the way in Barcelona on Sunday, as the final winter test drew to a close at the Circuit de Catalunya. With the cars next due on track in first practice for the season-opening Grand Prix in Australia in two weeks’ time, Nico Rosberg was the man on top.

Rosberg's closest rivals were Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Jenson Button, with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and Force India’s Paul di Resta completing the top six.

The German’s best lap came during the morning session on soft tyres as he traded fastest times with Alonso, before Mercedes - and almost all other teams - switched their focus to longer runs in the afternoon.

“I'm pleased with our pre-season testing programme,” said Rosberg, who also completed the most laps of the day with 131. “We have achieved a lot of mileage and I can feel that the balance of the car is good. I have the general feeling that we are in a better position than in the second half of last year but this is testing not racing, of course.

“The conditions in the first race will be completely different to here as it will be much hotter in Melbourne and Sepang so we need to wait and see. Thanks to the team here at the track and back home at the factory for all their hard work over the last month. I hope it pays off and we can look forward to a positive season ahead together.”

Button, Hulkenberg and Di Resta all had productive days, completing 122, 118 and 112 laps respectively, though Sauber were forced to abort a race simulation due to technical issues with their C32. There were further woes too for Raikkonen, returning to the Lotus E21 cockpit after missing Saturday due to illness. A gearbox problem confined the Finn to the garage for much of the morning, restricting his ultimate mileage to 50 laps.

“Personally, I felt much better today and I was fine driving,” said Raikkonen. “We ran through a lot of assessments this afternoon and the feeling in the team is that we have a strong basis to start the season; even if we haven’t shown that every day. I’m happy with the car and looking forward to going racing.”

Williams drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas were seventh and ninth fastest respectively, as the team concluded their test programme happy with the reliability and the latest performance updates on their FW35 machine.

“We completed the tests with one set of car parts, including using the same gearbox, so we have a good reliability record,” said technical director Mike Coughlan. “We brought an upgrade package here and in race trim the car looks competitive. We’ll now analyse all the data we have and then will go to Melbourne with the best package for the elevated temperatures we expect to find.”

Splitting the two Williams cars was reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who commented: “We haven’t been able to tick all the boxes we would have liked to and the last two days weren’t as good as we had expected - but there is a bit of time left before the season starts!”

Charles Pic was 10th quickest for Caterham, while rivals Marussia had both their race drivers in action - Jules Bianchi in the morning and Max Chilton in the afternoon. They finished 11th and 13th respectively as both ran through some final race weekend preparation and pit stop scenarios ahead of their competitive F1 debuts in Melbourne.

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo found himself sandwiched between the two Marussia drivers in the times as he finished 12th, with the Italian team admitting they have had their work cut out over winter testing this year.

“As the STR8 is fundamentally a new car, with plenty of crucial changes for example on the suspension, on the aero side and in terms of the architecture of the car, we had a very big work load to tackle this month in Spain,” explained Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso’s head of vehicle performance. “Even if we did not win any records for high mileage, we got through a lot of work over the three weeks on track, during which the car ran reliably, with no serious issues.

“Apart from our car, the other new element was the Pirelli tyres, which have different characteristics to last year’s. Getting a full understanding of how the new rubber works is something that will take longer than we had expected. Alongside these challenges, the growth of our team has involved the introduction of some new engineers and a revised organisational structure and that too was being tested over these 12 days, so it’s been a case of a very different team and a very different car.”

Unofficial Sunday test times from Barcelona:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:20.130, 131 laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:20.494, 120 laps
3. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:21.444, 122 laps
4. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:21.541, 118 laps
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:21.658, 50 laps
6. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:21.664, 112 laps
7. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.415, 42 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.514, 100 laps
9. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.524, 31 laps
10. Charles Pic, Caterham, 1:23.115, 116 laps
11. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 1:23.167, 62 laps
12. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.628, 91 laps
13. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:24.103, 49 laps

Unofficial aggregate times from second Barcelona test:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:20.130, 251 laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:20.494, 222 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:20.588, 230 laps
4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:21.266, 206 laps
5. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:21.444, 194 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:21.541, 197 laps
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.627, 171 laps
8. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:21.658, 50 laps
9. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:21.664, 169 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.305, 151 laps
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.468, 147 laps
12. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.514, 165 laps
13. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:22.553, 191 laps
14. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:22.658, 149 laps
15. Sergio Perez, McLaren, 1:22.694, 201 laps
16. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.716, 186 laps
17. Charles Pic, Caterham, 1:23.115, 199 laps
18. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 1:23.167, 136 laps
19. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.223, 173 laps
20. Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, 1:23.448, 16 laps
21. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.628, 152 laps
22. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:24.103, 202 laps
23. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:24.235, 174 laps

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