Perez takes top spot in third day of Barcelona F1 test

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Sauber’s Sergio Perez moved to the top of the timesheets on the third day of the final pre-season F1 test in Barcelona.

The Mexican’s quickest tour – coming in at 1:22.094 – ensured he was mere thousandths ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button come the chequered flag.

On what was Perez’ final day of testing before heading to Melbourne for the opening race, the 22-year-old completed qualifying simulations* in the morning, before commencing a race preparation programme after lunch, including an intensive series of pitstop practices. By the end of day, Perez had logged an impressive 114 laps.
The afternoon was rain interrupted, allowing teams to garner some time on Pirelli’s intermediate weather tyres.

McLaren spent the third day evaluating their new aerodynamic package, tailored for the opening Grand Prix; however much time was lost when a hydraulic issue kept the MP4-27 at bay.
As a result of the failure and the changing weather, McLaren’s proposed tyre-comparison programme and race simulation were moved to Sunday, limiting Button to 44 laps.

Toro Rosso enjoyed a solid day with Daniel Ricciardo at the wheel of his STR7. The Australian completed an aero development evaluation prior to running a race simulation in the afternoon – a vital detail that allowed the inexperienced Ricciardo to run a race stint in changeable conditions.
Felipe Massa completed 122 tours of the Circuit de Catalunya in the Ferrari F2012, as he logged set-up comparisons and a Grand Prix simulation. Force India ran a complete Grand Prix weekend simulation with Paul di Resta at the wheel of the VJM05.

Williams’ Bruno Senna flirted with low fuel runs and aero development tests in the morning, moving to a race simulation in the afternoon; however the team ended the race run early as the rain began to fall.
Despite only managing 64 laps, Caterham completed their Saturday programme with Heikki Kovalainen. The team set about running pre-race and start procedures, as well as background checks. There were also tests on some new parts that – according to the squad – delivered encouraging results.

Red Bull brought several developments parts to the track in preparation for the opening race. With Mark Webber at the controls, the reigning champions concentrated on short runs, with a view to set-up work and continued aero evaluation.
Nico Rosberg swapped between medium and long runs, Mercedes continue to assess their 2012 aero package and set-up options, allowing the German to register 129 laps in the F1 W03.
Less fortunate were Lotus, who suffered a power steering problem in the morning, before rain in the afternoon dampened their day further. The interruptions allowed Kimi Raikkonen only 43 attempts to circle the course.

* {note 1}
Qualifying is an area where Sauber struggled to find consistency through the 2011 season. An integral part of a team’s test programme, qualifying (and race) simulations come into play once systems checks and reliability diagnostics have been thoroughly digested.
This allows teams to figure out fuel and aerodynamic configurations, while also taking into account potential advantages and / or drawbacks with raceday set-ups and strategies.

Pos  Driver         Team            Time                Laps
  1.  Perez          Sauber          1m22.094s           114
  2.  Button         McLaren         1m22.103s  +0.009   44
  3.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso      1m22.155s  +0.061   131
  4.  Massa          Ferrari         1m22.413s  +0.319   122
  5.  Di Resta       Force India     1m22.446s  +0.352   108
  6.  Senna          Williams        1m22.480s  +0.386   111
  7.  Kovalainen     Caterham        1m22.630s  +0.536   64
  8.  Webber         Red Bull        1m22.662s  +0.568   70
  9.  Rosberg        Mercedes        1m22.932s  +0.838   129
 10.  Raikkonen      Lotus           1m25.379s  +3.285   43
^ Notes compiled from trackside reports and updates.

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