Räikkönen ends winter testing on top
4 March 2012 – Winter testing has come to an end ahead of the 2012 Formula 1 season, with the last chequered flag coming down in Barcelona on Sunday. On an overcast day, there was a major delay for Sebastian Vettel as Kimi Räikkönen finished atop the timesheets – just as he had done when testing began in Jerez one month ago.
Although it was a fine day for spectating in terms of temperature, there was a distinct lack of sunshine on a truly overcast afternoon; to the delight of the teams, there was also a lack of the rain and even hail which had affected their programmes by causing a red flag on Saturday afternoon. Once again, the action began at nine o’clock.
Over the first two hours, the top spot was shared by Lewis Hamilton (with a raft of updates), Bruno Senna and Fernando Alonso but it was Red Bull grabbing attention as a piece of bodywork came off Vettel’s car on the start/finish straight; whether this was related to the gearbox problem confirmed to GPUpdate.net remains to be seen. He finally made it back out onto the track during the final ten minutes.
There were a pair of stoppages during the day, first as Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber stopped on the outside of Turn 3 at half past three, with the second coming when Vitaly Petrov took a trip into the Turn 4 gravel trap in the final hour. In the second phase of the day, a number of drivers completed race simulations, which was confirmed by lap figures being well into the 100s once again – Vettel’s day ended with just 23 tours to his name.
Caterham believe Q2 qualifying should be possible from as early as Australia, whereas HRT failed to make the test and is hoping for a day of filming on Monday. Like the Spanish squad, Marussia has also failed FIA crash tests this winter and is believed to be planning a Monday filming day, at Silverstone.
The 2012 Formula 1 season begins in Melbourne, Australia later this month. All sessions this year will be available through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report, starting with first free practice on Friday 16 March at 12:30pm local time