Pastor Maldonado grabbed both the top spot and the headlines on day three of the second pre-season Formula 1 test at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The Venezuelan’s best of 1:22.391 was nearly one second clear of next fastest Michael Schumacher (Mercedes); however that time was almost certain set during a qualifying run.
More impressive was the reliability of the Williams with Maldonado registering 106 laps in the FW34 with no issues. The day began with several brief set-up runs cooling evaluations, before the former-GP2 champion launched into a race weekend programme.
Michael Schumacher ran the Mercedes F1 W03’s first race simulation during the afternoon, following a morning of tyre tests. The veteran garnered 127 laps in the process – an incredible total for a car launched only three days ago.
Sauber logged 99 tours of the Barcelona circuit with Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel. The team compiled aero and set-up notes throughout the day, as they aim to improve front tyre warm-up, necessitating numerous short runs. Sauber also ran back-to-back comparisons on two different rear wings for the C31, while also gathering data on various suspension configurations.
At McLaren, Jenson Button notched up 114 laps after completing several short and long runs, while exploring set-up variables. The team also set about a programme to understand the latest tyres better.
Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed 78 laps in the Toro Rosso STR7.It was a trouble free day, that saw the Italian squad conduct pitstop practices during a race simulation.
Mark Webber also attempted a race simulation; however this was halted after 30 laps when a gearbox issue halted the Red Bull RB8. Webber continued the programme after lunch.
Felipe Massa continued to work with Ferrari F2012 to solve balance issues on the hard tyre, while Force India set Paul di Resta to work with long and short runs on the medium and hard tyres. Unfortunately for di Resta, the Scot lost some time in the morning due to bodywork issues.
Marussia’s Timo Glock ran 108 laps in the 2011 Virgin MVR-02 in a series of tyre evaluation programmes.
It was a difficult day for Vitaly Petrov and the Caterham team who struggled with a front suspension problem in the morning, losing the time a deal of time. When running, the team ran solidly to unravel numerous mechanical set-ups with various tyre compounds.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Maldonado Williams 1m22.391s 106 2. Schumacher Mercedes 1m23.384s +0.993 127 3. Kobayashi Sauber 1m23.582s +1.191 99 4. Button McLaren 1m23.918s +1.527 114 5. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m24.433s +2.042 78 6. Webber Red Bull 1m24.771s +2.380 97 7. Massa Ferrari 1m24.771s +2.380 84 8. Di Resta Force India 1m25.646s +3.255 83 9. Glock Marussia 1m26.173s +3.782 108 10. Petrov Caterham 1m26.448s +4.057 70