Kimi Raikkonen ensured Lotus became the only team to top the times on two days at Jerez as the Finn set the pace on an extended final day, which required a long break to fix a pot-hole.
The fourth and final day at Jerez had to be extended due to the appearance of a pot-hole between Turns 10 and 11, which caused a fifty minute delay and required quick-drying cement. To compensate, the teams were given an extra half an hour of testing time.
Raikkonen set the second fastest time of the week to narrowly deny Force India’s Reserve Driver Jules Bianchi, who was looking for a big statement to boost his chances of landing the final driver slot on this year’s grid. Although, Bianchi did claim the third quickest time this week with relatively few laps under his belt and he could have improved had he not had to step aside for Paul Di Resta to take over this afternoon.
Raikkonen set three laps in the low 1m18s during three short stints on the soft tyre. As has been the case throughout the week, the soft tyre was quickly scrubbed up and a second flying lap saw times increase by over a second. Lotus then spent the remainder of their day on some longer, high fuel runs.
“The car’s been good, we’ve been running with plenty of petrol throughout the whole test and yet we have shown a decent turn of speed. We’ve done a fair number of laps without any significant reliability issues. So it’s a reasonable start,” said Lotus Technical Director James Allison.
Sebastian Vettel completed the top three after spending the morning on shorter runs using the hard tyre. He topped the times at midday and following the pot-hole break he concentrated on stints of around eight laps in length using both the medium and hard tyre.
Once the delay was resolved Esteban Gutierrez and Lewis Hamilton each set out on a mammoth run, with Gutierrez completing a race simulation of 55 laps. Hamilton didn’t quite match that in the one run but for the second day in a row Mercedes finished with the highest lap tally of anyone. The final two days in Jerez has seen them complete 293 laps, compared to the 29 from Day One and Two combined.
Hamilton has been pleased by his first impressions of the F1W04 and his new team this week, and feels they are heading in the right direction. “I think we are at the level where we would have hoped to have been, I couldn’t really have asked for more. The guys have done a great job to add downforce to the car, understand where they have been and take the car in the direction they want to go. Now they need direction,” said Hamilton.
The same could not be said for Ferrari and Development driver, Pedro De La Rosa. His first day with the team was over almost as soon as it had begun. A gearbox failure put a dampener on yesterday’s strong pace and De La Rosa never threatened the front-runners when he finally completed some laps in the afternoon.
Toro Rosso capped off a strong first test with Jean-Eric Vergne ending the by splitting Gutierrez and Hamilton, in fifth place. The STR9 has not been out of the top five on any days this week and furthermore have consistently found themselves within a couple of tenths of their big brother.
Sergio Perez had a fairly quiet day for McLaren, concentrating on fuel-heavy runs and spending long periods of the day in discussion with his engineers.
Charles Pic was another driver to rack up plenty of miles today, eventually completing 109 over a series on lengthy runs.
[Keep an eye out for analysis of Jerez Test on JA on F1]
Jerez Test Day 4
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m18.148s 83 Laps
2. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m18.175s + 0.027 56 Laps
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m18.565s + 0.417 96 Laps
4. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m18.669s + 0.521 142 Laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m18.760s + 0.612 92 Laps
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m18.905s + 0.757 145 Laps
7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m18.944s + 0.796 98 Laps
8. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m19.851s + 1.703 92 Laps
9. Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari 1m20.316s + 2.168 51 Laps
10. Charles Pic Caterham 1m21.105s + 2.957 109 Laps
11. Luiz Razia Marussia 1m21.226s + 3.078 82 Laps
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.435s + 5.287 49 Laps