On a day of mixed conditions Nico Rosberg set the pace on day three of the Barcelona test.
The Mercedes team has been plagued by poor pace throughout winter testing thus far but Rosberg set an impressive pace during a late session qualifying stint. The German’s pace compares favourably to Sebastian Vettel’s fastest time from yesterday. While exact fuel loads are unknown the pace of Rosberg will have done a lot to bring a smile to the face of the team but his longer stints still left questions about the pace of the Mercedes in race trim.
Vitaly Petrov overcame reliability issues in the morning to finish the day second fastest ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The former world champion saw his McLaren suffer numerous reliability issues throughout the day but managed to accumulate 93 laps. On a day when McLaren had wished to complete numerous long stints Hamilton was limited to ten lap runs for the majority of the day. The longest stint for Hamilton was just a 17 lap run, and even this was punctured with issues.
Speaking after the conclusion of another day of reliability for concerns Hamilton said: “Today I had a couple of long runs but they weren’t real race simulations,” said Hamilton.
“I was getting overtaken a lot by other cars. It’s always important at the beginning of the season in testing to get pitstops in and do a real race simulation. If you can do two in a day it’s fantastic.”
Asked how he felt about the level of mileage teams like Red Bull and Ferrari were accumulating, Hamilton replied: “It’s crazy, 140 laps from [Mark] Webber. All I can do is laugh.
“It’s incredible, they’re really doing fantastically. We’ve not managed to get to that many laps, but slowly but surely I’m sure we’ll get there.”
The day opened on a wet track with numerous red flags caused by drivers spinning. When slick tyres became the order of the day Toro Rosso test driver, Daniel Ricciardo, was particularly impressive. The Australian ended the morning second fastest, just behind Hamilton, before handing off driving duties to Sebastian Buemi in the afternoon.
Pastor Maldonado caused one of the early stoppages but the Venezuelan rookie recovered well to end the day fourth fastest for Williams. The team has shown impressive speed throughout testing and it will be interesting to see how they progress with their radical FW33.
Mark Webber ended the day fifth after completing 139 laps of the Catalan circuit. He concentrated solely on longer stints and his pace was ominous. While many teams have struggled to maintain tyre life throughout a stint the new Red Bull set consistent pace throughout longer stints. After Sebastian Vettel topped the time in the opening two days of the test Webber impressed by setting his fastest time on the opening lap of a 17 lap stint.
Jarno Trulli had reliability concerns, the Lotus once more had problems with water leaks, but the pace of the car was impressive with Trulli ending the day sixth ahead of Perez, Sutil and Massa.
Pos Driver Team/car Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.168s 92
2. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m23.463s + 0.295s 93
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.858s + 0.690s 93
4. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m24.815s + 1.647s 60
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m24.995s + 1.827s 139
6. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m25.454s + 2.286s 48
7. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.557s + 2.389s 115
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m25.720s + 2.552s 102
9. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.155s + 2.987s 31
10. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m26.508s + 3.340s 123
11. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m26.598s + 3.430s 97
12. Giorgio Mondini Hispania-Cosworth 1m28.178s + 5.010s 39
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.329s + 5.161s 42
14. Narain Karthikeyan Hispania-Cosworth 1m30.722s + 7.554s 32