Pérez quickest as tension builds in Barcelona
3 March 2012 – Sergio Pérez led the way on the penultimate day of testing in Barcelona. As the weather made a turn for the worse, with rain and even hail falling in the afternoon, a tense atmosphere developed as Ferrari banned any media from conducting interviews with its drivers. At the same time, Red Bull rolled out a highly modified car.
No less than eight red flag stoppages were a reason for excitement on Friday, with several drivers having halted their cars or gone off the track. As the weekend began, the drama came in a different form in the final few hours of the day. On a bright morning, hoards of photographers had gathered around the Red Bull garage as Mark Webber exited with modified exhausts, sidepods and wings; on a low-key day, he finished in eighth position.
McLaren also tested a selection of updated parts, with Jenson Button coming back from a hydraulics problem and ending up only nine thousandths of a second off the Sauber’s leading time, which was the fastest so far this year; only 52 thousandths covered the top three, with Daniel Ricciardo next up for Toro Rosso. As a short but heavy rain shower came, the Australian was first to fit Pirelli’s blue-marked, Wet compound tyres as spray was kicked up for the first time this year. Massa and Paul di Resta completed the leading quintet.
The only red flag came at quarter past four, with a bizarre hailstorm adding to the interruption of race simulations and making driving conditions impossible at Turn 1. At the same time, Bruno Senna parked his Williams on the back straight, leaving marshals with no decision but to temporarily postpone proceedings.
Despite Red Bull’s updated package, the talking point of the day was very much Ferrari’s decision to call off all media interviews with its drivers for the rest of the test session. The news came when communications head Luca Colajanni visited the media centre, receiving an angry reaction from Italian and Spanish journalists in particular. During the day, Alonso had been watching trackside, as he had done on Thursday.
It was a disappointing affair for Kimi Räikkönen, driving for the first time since the opening test in Jerez. Marooned in the pits with steering problems early on, the 2007 Champion spent much of his day in the garage and notched up only 43 laps in total.
Sunday will see Formula 1 winter testing conclude at the Circuit de Catalunya, with the green light coming on at 9am local time (GMT +1); questions can be submitted to our reporters in the GPUpdate.net Live Test Report