- Second Barcelona Test, Day Four
Rosberg underlines Mercedes pace with fastest timeLaurence Edmondson at the Circuit de Catalunya March 3, 2013 « Lotus not worried by Mercedes' pace | Rivals yet to show pace - Rosberg »
Nico Rosberg threw down the gauntlet on the final day of pre-season testing by setting the fastest time of the week and underlining the improved pace Mercedes has shown this week.
Rosberg was on soft tyres when he set a 1:20.130 in the final hour before lunch, making the most of the good conditions to stretch the potential of the updated Mercedes W04. Fernando Alonso showed strong pace in the Ferrari as well, clocking a 1:20.494 on soft tyres towards the end of the morning. Both drivers focused on longer runs in the afternoon and completed over 120 laps as they made use of their final running ahead of the first race in Australia in two weeks' time.
Jenson Button was third fastest with a 1:21.444 in the morning, before switching to a series of heavier fuel runs in the afternoon that upped his lap count to 122. Nico Hulkenberg was not far off the McLaren on a 1:21.541 but in the afternoon had a race simulation cut short due to a technical issue.
After missing Saturday's test with food poisoning, Kimi Raikkonen returned to the cockpit of the Lotus but spent most of the morning in the garage due to a gearbox problem. He rejoined the track just before lunch but had to complete most of his programme in the afternoon. By the end of the day he had set a 1:21.658, which was good enough for fifth fastest, but the last two days have been far from ideal ahead of the first race.
Paul di Resta used his final afternoon of testing to complete a race simulation in the Force India and his time from the morning was enough to secure the sixth in the standings at the end of the day. Pastor Maldonado ended up seventh fastest by the chequered flag after handing the Williams over to team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon. Bottas was just 0.109s off the pace of Maldonado but the pair ended the day split by Sebastian Vettel
Vettel set a 1:22.514 after a busy morning but took a while to return to the track. When he did come out the team ran a series of medium-length stints as they continued to work through the various upgrades brought to the car this week. The time may not have been spectacular but the car looked planted in high-speed corners and 100 laps was a decent total for the team at the end of the day.
Caterham's Charles Pic was ninth fastest with a 1:23.115, in the morning just 0.052s quicker than fellow Frenchman and Marussia rival Jules Bianchi. Bianchi handed over to Chilton in the afternoon while set a 1:24.103 to finish at the foot of the timesheets behind Daniel Ricciardo who completed Toro Rosso's low-key week of testing in 12th.
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:20.130, 131 laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:20.494, 120 laps
3. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:21.444, 122 laps
4. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:21.541, 118 laps
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:21.658, 50 laps
6. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:21.664, 112 laps
7. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.415, 42 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.514, 100 laps
9. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.524, 31 laps
10. Charles Pic, Caterham, 1:23.115, 116 laps
11. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 1:23.167, 62 laps
12. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.628, 90 laps
13. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:24.103, 49 laps
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1