Perez fastest on third day of testing in Barcelona

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31. Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 3 March 2012.

Sergio Perez ended day three top of the timing screens in Barcelona

Mar.3 (PVM) If any peculiarity has emerged during Formula 1 preseason testing is that there is a general reluctance – probably by design – by the top teams to end a days testing at the top of the timing screens and as a result the fastest man on day three of Barcelona testing was Sergio Perez in the Sauber- c31 but only by fractions of a second!

Kimi Raikkonen was uncomfortable in the Lotus E20 for most of the morning

Kimi Raikkonen was uncomfortable in the Lotus E20 for most of the morning

For Kimi Raikkonen it was not an ideal return to the cockpit of the Lotus E20 as he spent most of the morning getting comfortable in the cockpit, forcing the team to change the steering rack to maximise the Iceman’s comfort in the car. As a consequence he only racked up 43 laps (least of all on the day) and was slowest of all, quite in contrast to his teammate Romain Grosjean who was quickest of all on the first two days in Spain.

At the sharp end, Perez set his time shortly after noon on a set of Pirelli soft tyres and went out on a set of super softs but could not better his earlier time. The time stood until the end of the day with the Mexican notching up 114 laps in the process. Rain fell over Circuit de Catalunya in the late afternoon which prevented any faster times being set and most teams having to ditch plans for long race simulations. The track never really dried up by the time the day’s testing came to a close.

Next best by only 0.009 seconds was Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-27 who managed to put in some hot laps in the afternoon, just before the track became too damp for slicks. The 2009 world champion had a quiet morning with less than 17 laps on the board before lunch as the team sorted out a hydraulics issue and as a result, by the end of the day, he had only amassed 44 tours of the Spanish GP venue.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.

Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-27

Daniel Ricciardo was fastest for the first half of the morning, doing an impressive 30 something lap run in the Toro Rosso STR7 on softs. He covered the most ground on the penultimate day, with 131 laps credited, and only 0.061 seconds off the top time.

For a change the Ferrari F2012 of Felipe Massa spent most of the day at the sharp end of the timing screens, finishing the day fourth fastest with 131 laps completed. The Brazilian also had a go on the Pirelli intermediate tyres when the rain came down.

On the  fringes of the on track action, Ferrari team has clamped down on media briefings and access during this stanza of testing in Barcelona, declaring on Twitter: “The decision has been taken to keep the whole team fully focused on the job and there is not any polemic intent behind it.” Many pissed off journos wandering around the paddock at the Catalan circuit.

Fifth fastest was Paul di Resta, who was back in the cockpit of the Force India VJM05, and comleted a 52 lap race simulation on his way to racking up 108 laps.

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012. Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 3 March 2012.

Felipe Massa sampled intermediates on the Ferrari F2012 when the rain came down

The only red flag period of the day was caused when Bruno Senna’s Williams FW34 stopped out on track apparently out of fuel. The Brazilian  was sixth fastest with 111 laps to his credit.

Again showing strong pace was Heikki Kovalainen in the Caterham CT01, ending the day seventh fastest – only half a second down on the top pace – with 64 laps to his name.

Mark Webber was on a very different programme on his return to the cockpit of the Red Bull RB8, as he did not do a single run over half a dozen laps on his way to the eighth best time and 70 laps on his chart but also only half a second down on Perez’s best.

With 129 laps covered in the Mercedes AMG W02, Nico Rosberg was ninth fastest and 0.838 seconds off the pace. As mentioned above, Raikkonen was last on the timing sheets.

 Barcelona Test  Day 3 – Saturday, 3 March 2012

P Driver Team Time – Tyres
Laps
1 S.Perez Sauber 1:22.094 – Soft 114
2 J.Button McLaren 1:22.103 +0.009 44
3 D.Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:22.155 – Soft +0.061 131
4 F.Massa Ferrari 1:22.413 +0.319 122
5 P.Di Resta Force India 1:22.446 +0.352 108
6 B.Senna Williams 1:22.480 +0.386 111
7 H.Kovalainen Caterham 1:22.630 +0.536 64
8 M.Webber Red Bull 1:22.662 +0.568 70
9 N.Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.932 +0.838 129
10 K.Raikkonen Lotus F1 1:25.379 +3.285 43
* Tyre compounds are based on eye witness reports as teams are not divulging this information and in fact some teams are disguising what compounds they are running.