Sergio Perez finished the penultimate day of pre-season testing at the top of the timesheets after setting the fastest lap of the year at Barcelona.
Perez clocked a 1:22.094 during a soft tyre run in the morning but had close company by the end of the day with Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo both posting laps within a tenth of the Sauber's time. The top nine cars were separated by just 0.838s, with the majority of the drivers setting their fastest time during the morning session. Rain in the final hour forced the teams to use the intermediate tyres for the first time this year and guaranteed Perez's lap remained at the top.
Button was the only man to improve on his lap time in the afternoon after a hydraulic problem kept his McLaren in the garage for the second half of the morning. By lunch he had completed just 17 laps and he only managed to boost his tally to 44 by the end of the day. Ricciardo, meanwhile, was the busiest man on track with 131 laps, although a fair bit of his afternoon was spent drilling his pit crew with practice tyre changes.
Felipe Massa also had a productive day with 122 laps, gathering data in the morning before a race simulation in the afternoon. Even the rain didn't stop Massa heading out on track as the team is keen to toubleshoot the F2012 as much as possible before the first race at Melbourne.
Paul di Resta set the fifth fastest time with a super-soft tyre run in the morning as the Force India returned to the track following its terminal driveline issue on Friday. It was closely followed by Bruno Senna in the Williams, who was just 0.034s slower but stopped on track towards the end of the day with what appeared to be a mechanical problem.
Heikki Kovalainen put on another display of Caterham's new-found pace with a super-soft tyre run yielding a time of 1:22.630. It was 1.2 seconds quicker than his Friday time, but mileage on Saturday was limited with just 64 laps and a quiet afternoon for the Finn.
Red Bull attracted the media's attention early in the morning when Mark Webber broke cover in a heavily-revised version of the RB8. The team tried to hide its upgrades by swarming the car with mechanics and a rear wing cover on every return to the pits, but several photos revealed a completely new exhaust positioning and front wing. The new chassis was flown out with the parts already on the car already, whereas most teams are adding new bits at they go along. Webber completed 70 laps with a best time of 1:22.662.
After Lotus topped the times over the last two days, Kimi Raikkonen was slowest on Saturday with a 1:25.379. The E20 was sporting a new floor, front and rear wings and barge boards, but Raikkonen's morning running was limited due to a steering column change. He completed just 43 laps in total.
|1.||Sergio Perez||Sauber C31||1:22.094||114|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren MP4-27||1:22.103||44|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso STR7||1:22.155||131|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F2012||1:22.413||122|
|5.||Paul di Resta||Force India VJM05||1:22.446||108|
|6.||Bruno Senna||Williams FW34||1:22.480||111|
|7.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham CT01||1:22.630||64|
|8.||Mark Webber||Red Bull RB8||1:22.662||70|
|9.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W03||1:22.932||129|
|10.||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus E20||1:25.620||43|