Lewis Hamilton set multiple late laps-believed to be a low-fuel run- to finish the final day in Jerez on top.
The Briton set a lap time of 1.19.583, the fastest lap of the entire 4-day test at Jerez. However, this day of testing was not without another set of weather difficulties.
When the track opened at 8:00 this morning, the track was still fully wet from yesterday’s rain, and had plenty of standing water. Air temperature was a very low 7 degrees Celcius. Light rain was still falling at this point. While intermidiate tyres were being used, times were still about 9 to 10 seconds slower than the fastest of the entire test.
By around 9:00 the track was becoming more greasy than wet, as the drivers got used to the conditions. The first red flag of the day was out at 9:02, as Sebastian Vettel stopped out on track, after a run of 22 laps. The track continued to dry as the session restarted and continued, and by 10:30 dry patches were appearing around the circuit. There was a lull in action, as the teams pondered going onto slicks. Vettel’s tyres appeared very bald at this point.
An engineer tests the track as the circuit slowly dries out
Felipe Massa was the first to go onto slicks, and set a time of 1.24.022 at 11:00. This prompted everyone else to make the change, and the times started to fall. Track conditions were rapidly improving now. Within 15 minutes, Rubens Barrichello had slashed the fastest lap to 1.22.319. Michael Schumacher went out on track at 12:35 and set a time of 1.20.971 within 5 minutes. However, the German’s car slowed to a halt 10 minutes after this, bringing out the red flags.
While Schumacher's car was fixed, the team tested their new electronic lollipop
The track reopened at 13:10, with Lucas di Grassi finally getting out on track in the Virgin. He had made an appearance earlier, but only set 12 laps. But, he was well off the pace, with a fastest lap of 1.25.683 at 14:00, when everyone else was lapping in the 1.22′s and 1.23′s. He improved slowly, however, and was down to 1.22.912 by3:15. He set more than 50 laps across the day.
The real pace was being shown by Felipe Massa, who had been going on marathon runs all day long. More than 160 laps (500km!) over the afternoon showed how heavy he was running, and his fastest lap was 1.21.485. It is obvious that he was racing most of the day with a race fuel load. He did stop out on track in the morning, but it didn’t affect his running that much.
Felipe Massa after stopping out on track
For the last half an hour, the focus was on low-fuel runs rather than race loads. Sutil, Kubica, Massa, Hamilton and Vettel all broke their personal records of today’s test. The fastest lap of the day was set by Hamilton, a 1.19.583, 5 minutes before the session ended.
Adrian Sutil impressed all day long. Like Massa, he seemed to be running heavier than the others, but still described the car as “nice to drive” and “pleasant”. Today he was working on brake and race set up. He also said that he is thrilled with the performance of the VJM03 and has never felt so confident going into a season before.
There will be a few days for the teams to analyse the data from this test, before testing resumes here in Jerez on the 17th. Until then, I’ll write up an analysis of the last few days.
Times from today:
||# of laps
|P. de la Rosa
L. di Grassi
Pictures from the test: