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Jerez Test Day 4: Raikkonen and Lotus end week on a high

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen on top in the Lotus E21

Last year at Jerez, Kimi Raikkonen made his comeback in style by topping the first day of testing, this year he left the best to last as he powered around in the Lotus E21 to set the fastest lap on the da,y as the first stanza of pre-2013 season Formula 1 testing came to an end.

Kimi Raikkonen speaks to media
Kimi Raikkonen

Perhaps the most telling statistics, on the final day, were:

1. The fact that the top seven times were within one second of Iceman’s best – make that within 0.796 seconds.
2. The time set by Felipe Massa in the Ferrari F138, only 24 hours earlier, remained the fastest of all four days.

Raikkonen’s best time of 1:18.148 came at around 16:00 pm – it was a concerted ‘all-or-nothing’ effort – which saw him annex top spot on the timing screens. Thereafter he stuck to longer runs and went on to notch up 83 laps in total.

He summed up his day, “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. Let’s see what happens in Barcelona.”

Jules Bianchi, one of the favourites to bag the Force India seat for this season, was on duty for the team in the morning. Clearly fired up by the opportunity, the young Frenchman did his chances no harm when he posted the second best time of the day in the VJM06; a couple of hours before Raikkonen bumped him off the top line of the timing sheets – and only by a mere 0.027 seconds.

Jules Bianchi (FRA) Force India F1 VJM06 Third Driver. Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday 8 February 2013.
Pitstop for Jules Bianchi Force India VJM06

Bianchi, a Ferrari Driver Academy graduate, completed 56 laps before handing over to Paul di Resta, who racked up 49 laps but was five seconds down on the top pace as the team focused on long runs and big fuel loads.

The young Frenchman said of his first day in the VJM06 cockpit, “My first experience of the new car was very positive and it’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car. 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.”

World champion Sebastian Vettel completed 96 laps in the RB9, his best time up half a second on his previous days best.

“I think for the whole team it’s been quite a good test,” said Vettel. “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.”

It was another good day for rookie Gutierrez who has applied himself impressively to the task at hand, notching up 252 laps during his two day stint in the cockpit, and ending best of the rookies again, as he did a day earlier in the Sauber C32. He was also the fastest of the Ferrari powered brigade.

Next up, in fifth, with Ferrari power too, was Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso STR8 with 92 laps to his credit and half a second on his time 24 hours earlier.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RB9

Lewis Hamilton, who only managed 15 laps in his debut session with the Mercedes W04 a couple of days earlier, racked up 145 laps (most of all on the final day) on his way to setting the sixth best time. Together with Nico Rosberg’s tally, from Thursday, the Silver Arrows did 293 laps during the course of the final two days – making up for the first two problem packed sessions.

“We managed the kind of mileage that the car is capable of and I think we have a good platform to start working from. Now we need to understand the F1 W04 even more: personally, I am learning something with every lap I do and every change I make to the set-up. Overall, I think we are probably at the level we would have hoped to be,” reflected Hamilton.

Hamilton’s replacement at McLaren, Sergo Perez, was next up with the seventh best time in the MP4-28, but 1.703 seconds down on the top pace on his way to ticking off 98 laps on his chart.

Valterri Bottas had the honour of testing the Williams FW34 for the final time, as the team will debut the successor at Barcelona on 19 February. The young Finn was eighth on the timing screens when the flag fell.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W04
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.

Newly appointed Ferrari test and reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa had a fiery debut for the team when the F138 caught alight during an installation lap, within an hour of him hopping into the car.

The repair job took around four hours before the Spanish veteran could return to the programme of collating data for back-to-back comparisons with the team’s simulator. Nevertheless he completed 51 laps and set the ninth best time in the process.

Caterham new boy Charles Pic had a good day with 109 laps to his credit, with a best lap time that was good for tenth and over a second up on his Thursday time.

Rookie, and Marussia new boy, Luiz Razia was 11th on the timing sheets, with 82 laps on his pit board.

The second edition of 2013 preseason testing takes place at Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona on 19-22 February.

Jerez Testing Day 4 – Friday, 8 February 2013

1K.RaikkonenLotus E211.18.14883
2J.BianchiForce India VJM061.18.175+0.02756
3S.VettelRed Bull RB91.18.565+0.41796
4E.GutierrezSauber C321.18.669+0.521142
5J-E.VergneToro Rosso STR81.18.760+0.61292
6L.HamiltonMercedes W041.18.905+0.757145
7S.PerezMcLaren MP4-281.18.944+0.79698
8V.BottasWilliams FW341.19.851+1.70392
9P.De La RosaFerrari F1381.20.316+2.16851
10C.PicCaterham CT031.21.105+2.957109
11L.RaziaMarussia MR021.21.226+3.07882
12P.Di RestaForce India VJM061.23.435+5.28749
DriverTeamRed Green
1P.De La RosaFerrari10h0910h27