Lotus head timesheet again as first pre-season Formula One test concludes in Jerez.
Fri 08.02.13, 7:07PM
Lotus topped the Jerez timesheets for the second time this week as Kimi Räikkönen claimed top spot on the last day of the first pre-season test.
"The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we’re going with improvements."
Team-mate Romain Grosjean went quickest on day two of the four-day programme and not to be outdone Räikkönen claimed Friday’s quickest time with a lap of 1:18.148. Yesterday Felipe Massa had set the day’s best time during a short run on soft tyres and it was a similar tale for Räikkönen as he tested the limits of the E21 in the afternoon.
“We’re at the top of the timing monitors, but that means nothing in testing,” said Räikkönen. ”Our focus has been testing parts on the car, but I’ve been able to get the set-up more to my liking. For sure there’s more work to be done in this area, but that’s what we’re here for. The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we’re going with improvements.”
The Finn’s lap meant that Jules Bianchi, the Ferrari academy driver and Force India reserve bidding for the still vacant second seat at the Silverstone team, was narrowly pipped for first place. The Frenchman had run quickest in the morning and his time of 1:18.175, set just after the track re-opened following a stoppage for repairs, was good enough for second place.
“It’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car,” said Bianchi. “I spent most of the time on the medium tyres, but I got a chance to run the softs as well and they offered a lot of grip so I enjoyed that. It was also nice to do some long runs, so I’ve felt the car on heavy fuel, which is good for my experience. I’m pleased the team asked me to help out this week and I’m happy with how things went.”
Sebastian Vettel completed his running for Red Bull Racing with 96 laps in the RB9 and the day’s third-fastest time of 1:18.565.
"I think for the whole team it’s been quite a good test," said Vettel, who completed 198 laps over the course of two days at Jerez. "No problems in terms of reliability and we did a lot of laps, so I’m quite pleased with the results. I feel a bit better than last year. I think we had some issues with reliability then, so it seems we have done our homework well.
Looking ahead to the teams’ next test, at Circuit de Catalunya later this month, Vettel said the performance picture should become clearer at the Barcelona track.
"I think the Barcelona test will maybe reveal a bit more, but just because people are running more and teams will play around a bit more there," he added. "However, as I’ve said before, we just focus on what we do. In Barcelona we’ll learn more about ourselves and maybe a little bit about our rivals. It should be interesting."
Sauber's new recruit Esteban Gutierrez was again in action today and set the fourth-best time with a lap of 1:18.669, just ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who moved up the order thanks to some lower fuel short runs on the soft tyre. Those laps put him ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who clocked the day’s biggest lap total, with 145, the Mercedes W04 running without problem for a second day after early-week technical problems.
Ferrari’s new development driver Pedro de la Rosa made his debut for the team today. A gearbox problem sidelined the Spaniard for part of the day but he logged 50 laps to finish the day in ninth position behind Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and seventh-placed Sergio Pérez. Behind de la Rosa were Charles Pic, Luiz Razia and Paul Di Resta.