Today was the third of four days of testing at Jerez in Spain and the main talking point was the appearance of Nick Heidfeld in the Renault. The German has been called in following the accident of lead driver Robert Kubica.
Heidfeld, who was out of work over the winter having given up testing roles for Mercedes and Pirelli to take up a brief race seat at Sauber at the end of last season, is hoping that the team will give him the seat left vacant by his former BMW team mate.
He set the fastest time today, a 1m 20.361 on the first lap of an eight lap run in the Renault. He covered a total of 86 laps and afterwards said, I’m very pleased. Not only with the position – that depends on various factors. But I’m happy with the job I did today, I don’t think I could have done any better. I think I already helped them to understand the car and at least give some directions, which helped over the day. But this is something you have to ask Eric [Boullier].”
Boullier was asked today why the team has not approached Nico Hulkenberg, whose test contract with Force India would allow him to leave for a race seat elsewhere. The answer was that “we want someone with experience.” This is particularly in terms of setting up and developing the R31. With the important rule changes this year and experienced driver at this stage is vital. Tomorrow Bruno Senna will get a day in the car, but you sense that Renault wanted Heidfeld to succeed today.
Renault had a few hydraulics problems today. New parts will be flown out in time for the start of play tomorrow.
Between 0930 and 1130 this morning the FIA trialled the new adjustable rear wing system on the pit straight. When the cars were within one second of each other, the relevant light came on in the cockpit of the pursuing car and the driver could ‘push-to-pass’. I’m told it all went okay.
Mercedes had Michael Schumacher in the car again. They flew out a new front wing for today. When he was asked what he made of the degradation on the super-soft compound he replied, “It’s not just the two soft compounds. It’s the
Pirellis!” There is still some work to do.
Paul di Resta had his first run in the Force India VJM04 today. He complained of brake problems all day and his spin this morning was the result of locked rears.
Additional Reporting: Tom Clarkson
JEREZ TEST, Day 3
1. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m20.361s 86
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.493s + 0.132s 131
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.054s + 0.693s 114
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.099s + 0.738s 36
5. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.242s + 0.881s 84
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m21.574s + 1.213s 98
7. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m21.681s + 1.320s 92
8. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m21.711s + 1.350s 61
9. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m22.227s + 1.866s 99
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.945s + 2.584s 64
11. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m25.471s + 5.110s 72