The final day of testing at Jerez saw a Rubens Barrichello take the lead of the timesheets.
At the wheel of his Cosworth-powered Williams, the Brazilian registered an unlikely time of 1:19.832 set in the morning, on a day when much of the running was around the 1:22 or 1:23 mark. Barrichello engaged in some long runs thereafter, eventually clocking up 103 laps.
Next up was the fiery Japanese driver, Kamui Kobayashi. The Sauber driver registered 86 laps on a day that was broken up by a spin and a drivetrain issue. Despite that, the Swiss squad have been making quiet, but confident noises about their 2011 prospects; although we well know at this stage that testing can be very deceptive.
Fernando Alonso was once again the day’s busiest pilot; the Spaniard took in 115 laps around Jerez in front of a respectable and enthusiastic Spanish crowd. His best lap of 1:21.074 was good enough for 3rd on the scoreboard, ahead of Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso.
Entering his third season, Buemi has a critical year ahead of him, but if his STR6 shows as well in the races as it does in testing, he could be in for a solid year. A day of aerodynamic work and set-up evaluations gave the Swiss man a best of 1:21.213 after a 90 lap day.
Bruno Senna was unable to match Nick Heidfeld’s best time in the Renault today; however the former-Hispania racer took the day very much as a day of learning, especially as he had never used KERS or the movable rear wing before. It was also his début Pirelli run.
Heikki Kovalainen only managed 43 laps in his Lotus T128, but finished the day 1.8 seconds down on Barrichello; however numerous delays and niggling problems shortened the Finn’s running. Nico Rosberg only managed an extra two laps in the Mercedes as a late morning engine change meant Rosberg lost over three hours to the rest of the runners. His best lap of 1:22.102 put him one-tenth better than Sebastian Vettel, who spent his time investigating aerodynamic and suspension upgrades.
Jenson Button claimed 90 laps in the McLaren Mercedes, with a best lap some 2.44 seconds off the best. The 2009 World Champion complained later that it was difficult a good balance in the MP4-26, while an internal failure stopped running completely later on.
Both Jerome d’Ambrosio (10th, Virgin) and Paul di Resta (11th, Force India) had frustrating times again today. D’Ambrosio lost much of the session thanks to an engine problem late in the morning, meaning the Belgian could only produce 45 laps.
As for di Resta, a day doing long stints was cut short when a part failed on the front of the car. It was an unfortunate compromise for the Scot, who suffered balance problems in the morning.
For the final hour of the week, rain drew upon the Jerez circuit, giving the teams a short window to use wet Pirelli tyres for the first time.
Testing resumes on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya, where a full field will take to the Barcelona track. As for Hispania, they begin a three day test and media session in Monza tomorrow, but are expected to have joined the pack come the green light on Friday morning.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps 1. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m19.832s 103 2. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m20.601s + 0.769s 86 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.074s + 1.242s 115 4. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m21.213s + 1.381s 90 5. Bruno Senna Renault 1m21.400s + 1.568s 68 6. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m21.632s + 1.800s 43 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.103s + 2.271s 45 8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.222s + 2.390s 90 9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.278s + 2.446s 70 10. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m22.985s + 3.153s 45 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m23.111s + 3.279s 99