Kimi Raikkonen finished the final day of pre-season testing today in Barcelona as the fastest driver, the same position in which he found himself just under a month ago after the first day of pre-season testing in Jerez.
The Finn set a time of 1:22.030 today and, with team-mate Romain Grsojean being quickest on both Thursday and Friday, this means that his Lotus team have finished three out of the four days of this Barcelona test on top of the timesheets.
Raikkonen, who completed 121 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, also managed more mileage than any other driver today.
Fernando Alonso was second fastest and completed 115 laps, although his Ferrari team are playing down the possibility of race wins and even podiums at the opening races of the season.
Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg put in a good final-day showing for Williams and Force India, respectively, by being the third and fourth fastest drivers.
Kamui Kobayashi continued Sauber‘s strong showing in pre-season testing by finishing the day fifth, although an engine problem 90 minutes before the end of the day limited his running to just 72 laps.
Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren was sixth fastest, a few tenths fastesr than Vitaly Petrov and his very confident Caterham team.
Michael Schumacher also sounded positive as he looked back on his pre-season testing, but neither he nor Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn would make any predictions about the relative competitiveness of the new MGP W03. The seven-time world champion finished his final day of testing eighth on the timesheets.
Pastor Maldonado, who took over from Senna in the Williams after lunch, was someway off the pace of his team-mate, which could have been down to the windier conditions in Barcelona this afternoon. The Venezuelan still finished the day ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. The current world champion had a frustrating day full of problems, and completed just 23 laps.
HRT failed to get their new car ready for an appearance today, but will carry out a filming session tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya with Narain Karthikeyan at the wheel of the F112.
Barcelona Test II, Day Four: Unofficial Times
|4||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:22.312||101|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:23.393||100|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:23.608||23|
Barcelona Test II, Day Four: Driver and Team Quotes
Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen: “I was happy with today's running. 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.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We've had a good, productive day to conclude our pre-season test programme. After the interruptions of yesterday we made some set-up changes overnight which immediately made Kimi feel more comfortable in the car as the balance was much more to his liking. We then spent the rest of the morning running on medium and then soft tyres, steadily improving the car.
“Despite having missed a test we are in good shape heading to Melbourne. We've completed two race distances and the E20 has proved reliable, easy to set-up and predictable in its handling with both drivers reporting they are happy.”
Eric Boullier,Team Principal: “After the disappointment of last week, this test was crucial and I think we did a good job. First of all, we've been able to confirm that the changes made to the car fixed our front suspension problems. We were confident that the redesign was well conceived and well executed, but we have demonstrated the integrity of the modified part. It is a tribute to the all team, which has been working amazingly hard over the last few days in order to fly the E20 on time to Barcelona.
“Despite the rain and a few technical glitches, we managed to learn more about the new car. We now have a better understanding of it, and have a few positive setup directions that we can take further. Moreover, both drivers seem happy with the balance and tyre degradation. We are cautiously optimistic for the future and now looking forward to Melbourne.”
Bruno Senna: “We had a productive morning completing a number of tyre tests and aero runs. It has been interesting to see the car developing. Overall we've had a good few days of running here in Barcelona. We are still improving, but I feel we are in a solid position to go to Australia.”
Pastor Maldonado: “We completed some good runs this afternoon and ended our test programme without issue. I'm feeling positive, and ready for Australia.
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: “We had another good test day to end what has been a very productive pre-season test programme. We successfully ran the first race update package this morning with Bruno, and switched drivers to Pastor over the lunch break. The wind picked up throughout the day, making the afternoon conditions a lot trickier than those encountered in the morning.
“Over the last three tests we have completed all of our primary testing objectives and now eagerly turn our attentions towards the back-to-back opening races in Australia and Malaysia.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “We managed to fit a lot in today and hopefully when we have been through all the data we will have learned a lot, too. The race weekend simulation was useful, but unfortunately my race distance was cut short, so we will rely more on the data from Paul's run yesterday. We were also busy trying all the tyre compounds to learn more about tyre management and how to get the most from them.
“You always want more time in the car, but I think we can be pleased with how our three tests have gone. We still need to find some more performance because the whole grid looks very close and competitive, and I expect the grid in Melbourne to be extremely tight.”
Jakob Andreasen, Chief Engineer: “Today's programme was a continuation of our race preparations and gave Nico the opportunity to have a dress rehearsal before we arrive in Melbourne. We started the day by addressing some the issues we spotted during yesterday's running and experimented with a few set-up solutions to try and ensure we develop a car that performs consistently across a wide operating window. That programme went well and allowed us to push ahead with our race weekend simulation in the middle of the morning. The race distance we had planned for the afternoon was interrupted by red flags, so we didn't hit our mileage targets, but it did give Nico a chance to do some extended running.”
Kamui Kobayashi: “My test programme for today had foreseen several longer breaks for changes to the car but of course not the early end because of the engine. These things happen, but I am still happy with our achievements. We did a lot of work to learn about the huge variety of set-up and aero options the new car offers. We made progress and of course there is still room for improvement. Personally I have not found the perfect set-up for me yet, at least not for Barcelona; Melbourne might be a different story anyway.
“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.”
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: “The summary of our pre-season testing is very positive. We experienced a bit of a difficult start in Jerez with a few reliability issues but step by step we improved in terms of mileage, set-up, understanding of the car and performance. Both drivers became happier with the car by the end of the day.
“As a team we also practiced procedures and strategies and it worked well. We were lucky with the weather and test conditions too – overall it was a really productive campaign and now it is time to race.”
Vitaly Petrov: “I am more than happy with how we went today. The team has done a fantastic job all day and we've been improving in every area each time we went out. I had my new seat today so I'm really starting to get comfortable in the car and the laptimes are coming down, the setup is improving and everything is working really well. The last lap before lunch was close to perfect for me, with the conditions and the way the car behaved, but we know there is still more to come so that is good news, it keeps us pushing.
“This afternoon we were looking at a race simulation and despite the slightly early end to the day it all went to plan. The degradation levels were manageable and we didn't have any issues at all with any of the systems – KERS, engine, gearbox or anything mechanical. We do have work to do, that's the same for everyone, but I think we have prepared as well as we can for Melbourne so for me this has been a really good first couple of weeks with the team.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “We have had a very good final week of testing. 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, so the target for Australia will be to maintain the strong reliability we have shown here, build on the performance both drivers have demonstrated and aim to be racing one or two of the teams who were just out reach at the end of 2011.”
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “For me that is the best test our team has ever had. Both Vitaly and Heikki have performed very well behind the wheel and with both drivers putting in good times, and very decent mileage, we leave here in as good a shape as we could have hoped for.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, and we will not stop pushing because we know where we are likely to be when we get to Melbourne, and to be able to fight with the teams ahead will require even more hard work from everybody, but step by step we keep edging ever closer to them and the performance here, and in Jerez, shows we are on the right path.”
Michael Schumacher: “After four intensive days of testing this week, we are soon heading to Australia and it’s really time for the season to start. 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. 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.
“Again, what this means compared to our competitors is something I want only to go into after some races, as we all know that testing does not show everything. What we can say though is that the field is tighter than it has been, so we are looking forward to an exciting season.”
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: “As we reach the end of an intense two weeks of testing with our new car, the F1 W03, firstly I would like to thank all of our team members at Brackley and Brixworth for their hard work and dedication. It has been a demanding period for everyone involved, and I am very pleased with the work that we have achieved and the progress that we have seen.
Over nine days of testing, Michael and Nico have put 4250 km on the F1 W03, and we have accomplished the majority of items on a very demanding test programme. There is a lot of hard work ahead back at base next week to analyse the results, however I am confident that we are in good shape for the start of the season.
As usual, it would be unwise to make any judgement on our competitiveness at this stage, and I will certainly refrain from doing so! It is going to be fascinating to see how it all turns out and I’m sure that this is going to be a very exciting season for the teams and fans. We are all looking forward to the action getting underway in Australia in a fortnight.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “Another day with a lot of laps to add to the high-mileage day yesterday. I have done more running this week than at the previous two tests and we have learned a lot about our new car, enough to have a basis for the start of the season. Personally, I found it very useful and I've got a clear understanding of the changes we have made these past few weeks and how the car reacts. Now I'm just looking forward to Melbourne – can't wait.”
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: “Looking at the twelve days of testing as a whole; one session when we launched the STR7 in Jerez and then the last two weeks here in Barcelona, we can say it has been an effective pre-season campaign. We are moving in the right direction in terms of car development, which will be important, as it is going to be very tight in the mid-field and being at the front or the back of that group will be down to very small differences between the car packages. Our two drivers worked very well throughout the tests and, over the last two days in particular, we managed to complete a very high mileage with Daniel. Between now and taking to the track at Albert Park for FP1, we will be working hard looking at the data to make sure we are getting the most out of our current package. Everyone in the team is very eager to get to Melbourne now and start racing.”
Sebastian Vettel: “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. 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, so we'll take what we can from that.”
“Summing up, I think that with testing you always have something you'd run differently but you have to accept what you get. There aren't many years you can give yourself a 10 out of 10, because it's likely that things break or you stop for precautionary reasons. Overall, though, I think we can be quite happy with how we've done this time.”
Guillaume Rocquelin, Sebastian's Race Engineer: “We've had a pretty smooth run all the way through pre-season and to have such a disrupted day on the final one is pretty disappointing. We hardly had any running in the morning and when we did manage to get out in the afternoon there really wasn't much we could achieve in the short time available. It's frustrating as the boys worked really hard all day. But when things like this happen you just have to roll with the punches.”
“If there is a positive to take from today it's that it happened on the final day and otherwise Seb has had a pretty good run through the three tests. We've learned a lot, progressed the car well, I think, and now we'll just look forward to taking it racing, where it really counts.”