Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing (Valencia, February 3rd)

Ricardo Tormo circuit.

At the conclusion of the third day of testing in Valencia yesterday, Renault’s Robert Kubica took the top spot with a headline grabbing run in the R31, securing a fastest lap of 1:13.144 late in the afternoon.

The Pole was a mere 0.057 of-a-second ahead of Force India pilot, Adrian Sutil, who had the busiest day of all thanks to 117 laps around the Ricardo Tormo circuit. Sutil had a healthy gap back to the next runner, Jenson Button, who turned in the final laps for the MP4-25 with a best of 1:13.553. Next up was Mark Webber in the Red Bull RB7 who was finally getting some running following a stuttered day on Wednesday.
The Australian finished the day just under eight-tenths slower than Kubica, although Webber still had a better time of it than 5th place Felipe Massa – the Brazilian driver suffered an oil failure early in the day causing him to spin his Ferrari, before starting a brief fire at the rear of his F150 machine. Although Massa got back out in the afternoon, it was an unfortunate way for him to start the final running.

Timo Glock (6th, Virgin), Pastor Maldonado (7th, Williams), Sergio Perez (8th, Sauber) and Michael Schumacher (9th, Mercedes) were next up – all managed to break the century lap barrier and while it might be expected for Glock, Maldonado and Perez to be further down the list, it was something of a surprise to see Schumacher 1.4 seconds off the pace. As always though, it is impossible to tell who is doing what at these early sessions; however neither the Mercedes nor Schumacher have shown startling laps as of yet when on short runs.
Sebastien Buemi claimed 10th spot in his Toro Rosso with a best of 1:14.803, while Hispania’s Narain Karthikeyan returned to the rear of the pack – his quickest turn of pace saw the Indian 3.4 seconds slower than Kubica. Jarno Trulli trailed the sheets, but did not set a time – instead the Italian completed installation run after installation run.
Unfortunately, the Lotus T128 suffered a power steering failure yesterday, but with spares not arriving in time for the last day, it left Trulli with little to do beyond the occasional systems check; however because the team did not start testing until Wednesday, the Norfolk based squad are able to avail of a further day’s running today.

Tellingly, when on short runs this week, the drivers have been setting a pace around the 1:13-1:14 mark; however when switching to longer runs, the drop-off in laptime was quite considerable (up to five seconds per tour), followed by an even greater lossage of time once the Pirelli’s faded badly.
Testing continues next week in Jerez.

Pos Driver               Team                   Time       Gap    Laps
 1. Robert Kubica        Renault                1m13.144s           95
 2. Adrian Sutil         Force India Mercedes*  1m13.201s  +0.057  117
 3. Jenson Button        McLaren Mercedes*      1m13.553s  +0.409  105
 4. Mark Webber          Red Bull Renault       1m13.936s  +0.792  105
 5. Felipe Massa         Ferrari                1m14.017s  +0.873   80
 6. Timo Glock           Virgin Cosworth*       1m14.207s  +1.063  114
 7. Pastor Maldonado     Williams Cosworth      1m14.299s  +1.155  101
 8. Sergio Perez         Sauber Ferrari         1m14.469s  +1.325  104
 9. Michael Schumacher   Mercedes               1m14.537s  +1.393  110
10. Sebastien Buemi      Toro Rosso Ferrari     1m14.801s  +1.657   73
11. Narain Karthikeyan   HRT Cosworth*          1m16.535s  +3.391   63
12. Jarno Trulli         Lotus Renault          no time             38

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