Testing At Jerez – Day 3

The sun finally started shining at the Spanish track this week as the teams took advantage of the dry conditions. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher were the big names on Friday.

New Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen found himself at the bottom of the time sheet again, but he completed 68 laps this time with a time of 1:23.521, which is only 4.2 seconds off the pace.

“A reasonably good day today and the best thing was getting our first dry running in,” said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “We had a small problem this morning with a clutch sensor but as we wanted to wait until conditions had dried up that suited us well. We concentrated on long runs and started to work with the two tyre types, which we obviously haven’t been able to do before, so overall good progress.”

Virgin could only manage to put in 34 laps because of yet another hydraulic failure with GP2 graduate Lucas Di Grassi in the cockpit.

“We were again frustrated by a recurrence of one of our known hydraulic issues,” explained Virgin’s technical director, Nick Wirth. “This stopped Lucas from doing more than a handful of flying laps and then finally prevented any more meaningful running, so he didn’t get up to speed today. We’ll try and put some more fixes in place tonight to allow us to get some more laps in tomorrow. We’re very aware that Lucas has had very little running so far and we hope to improve things so he can get more seat time at the Barcelona test next week.”

Toro Rosso seemed to be slower this time around in Jerez as 19 year old Jaime Alguersuari finished 9th with a time of 1:22.564. The long stints and running on the same tyre compound for the entire day did look to be the reason as he covered 120 laps

Sauber and Force India continued to run in the midfield as the young Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi and Adrian Sutil took on full time duty on Friday.

Kamui had a fuel system problem and could only manage 28 laps in the C29. “It was obviously not a perfect day, but I prefer to have a technical problem now rather than in the first race,” said Kobayashi. “Although I could only complete a limited number of laps, we learned a few things on which we can build tomorrow.”

And German Adrian Sutil did some short and long running and covered 69 laps with a time of 1:21.939.

“Today was our first proper shot at dry running this test and it went pretty well,” said the German driver. “In the morning we did a few short runs and some set-up work and then in the afternoon moved on to longer runs and getting more information on the new tyres. The tyres at the moment are quite difficult to handle as the soft compound grains up very quickly in the low temperatures. The mediums last a bit longer but still grain after 10 or 12 laps. There’s no way to avoid it at the moment but I’m not too concerned as I am sure they will handle better in the higher temperatures we’ll see in the races.”

Robert Kubica took over the R30 for the last two days from his rookie team-mate Petrov, he covered 100 laps with a time of 1:21.916 on his way to 6th.

“Finally the weather improved and we managed to complete a productive day of work,” said Renault’s chief engineer Alan Permane. “Early on the track was still damp, but it dried out quite quickly and we got some useful set-up work done with Robert, which has taken us in a good direction. We also spent some time doing procedural work and practice starts with a heavy car. Robert also ran a couple of different dry tyre compounds to compare them, which was useful.”

7 time world champion Michael Schumacher took over the W01 from team-mate Nico Rosberg for his last day at Jerez. He focused mainly on long runs on the way to 5th.

“Today was a nice end to my testing days in Jerez this week and it was great to finally have some consistent dry running,” said the seven-time champion. “We are on schedule with our programme but at the same time, we are well aware that there is still a lot of work ahead of us. The final test in Barcelona next week will be an important test in this respect and will give us valuable information about the performance of the car.”

Ex-Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg took over from veteran Rubens Barrichello and showed pace towards 4th place with a time of 1:21.432. He covered the most laps of 138.

While 2009 world champion Jenson Button continued McLaren’s good performance by setting the 3rd fastest time of 1:20.394 and covered 101 laps.

Double world champion from 2005 and 2006 Fernando Alonso, took to the Ferrari F10 for the first of his two day test at Jerez. He posted the 2nd quickest time of 1:20.115 with the second most laps of 132.

It was Australian Mark Webber who went to the top of the time sheet with a time of 1:19.299; the only time in the 1:19’s.

“We’re certainly showing some good form in terms of reliability, but we always need to work on performance; you never know that the other teams are doing,” said Webber. “We’re in a good position at the moment to build up to the first race – it’s close, but there’s also quite a way to go, as other teams have no doubt planned developments for Bahrain. We’re doing the work we need to do, in order to understand the car more.”

So, the top four look very much like the old days – well apart from the Red Bull! – the top three most successful teams seem to be coming back to form for the 2010 season, and with the likes of Mercedes GP and Red Bull, this looks even more interesting than ever…

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1.     Mark Webber                  Red Bull                 1:19.299      115     Laps
2.     Fernando Alonso          Ferrari                   1:20.115      132     Laps
3.     Jenson Button                McLaren               1:20.394      101     Laps
4.     Nico Hulkenberg           Williams                 1:21.432       138     Laps
5.     Michael Schumacher   Mercedes GP       1:21.437        79     Laps
6.     Robert Kubica                Renault                  1:21.916       100    Laps
7.     Adrian Sutil                     Force India          1:21.939        69      Laps
8.     Kamui Kobayashi           Sauber                    1:22.228       28      Laps
9.     Jaime Alguersuari          Toro Rosso           1:22.564       120    Laps
10.   Lucas Di Grassi                Virgin                     1:23.504        34      Laps
11.    Heikki Kovalainen          Lotus                      1:23.521        68      Laps

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