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Sunday February 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:04:41 AM
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA (Spain): Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen clocked the best time on the final day of Formula One testing on Friday but Ferrari’s Felipe Massa remained the only driver to break 1:18 all week.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, took his Lotus to a time of 1:18.148 off 83 laps with Force India’s test driver Jules Bianchi, eager for a full-time season drive, in second spot on 1:18.175.
Triple world champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in 1:18.565 after completing 96 laps in his Red Bull.
Raikkonen and Bianchi also had the honour of clocking the week’s second and third best times, but neither were able to better Ferrari driver Massa’s time of 1:17.879 set on Thursday.
“We continued our work from Thursday and made some good progress,” said Raikkonen, who will attempt to build on his week’s work at the next test session in Barcelona from Feb 19. “We’re at the top of the timing monitors, but that means nothing in testing. Our focus has been testing parts on the car, but I’ve been able to get the set-up more to my liking.
“For sure there’s more work to be done in this area, but that’s what we’re here for. The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we’re going with improvements. Let’s see what happens in Barcelona.”
Friday’s final day was extended by 30 minutes after repairs were needed to fill in a hole which had appeared in one of the curves at the Jerez track.
Vettel, who drove 96 laps, said he had been impressed by the car’s reliability and said: “I think for the whole team it’s been quite a good test.”
“No problems in terms of reliability and we did a lot of laps, so I’m quite pleased. I feel a bit better than last year. I think we had some issues with reliability then, so it seems we have done our homework well.”
Vettel also shrugged off the delay to fix the pot hole, insisting it was an indication of the speeds being done by the drivers.
“Everyone is on the limit here, running wide, using the maximum amount of track and the kerbs and unfortunately it started to break up,” he said.
“But the circuit did a very good job over lunch to get everything sorted and gave us an extra half hour at the end, so no real problem.”
On the other hand, another former champion, Lewis Hamilton is refusing to press the panic button ahead of his first season with Mercedes — despite his nightmare first test.
The Brit crashed out on Wednesday after his brakes failed while doing almost 200mph.
And his team-mate Nico Rosberg’s car caught fire the previous day — limiting their crucial running time here in southern Spain.
But both drivers had a solid final two days testing, and Hamilton, 28, insists there are reasons to be confident going into the new season, which starts on March 17.
He said: “The Mercedes team have been incredibly supportive. They all want to do right by me.
“They were caring when I had the incident the other day and were concerned and they don’t really know me that well yet.
“So already I am building a bond with them and they are working flat out, which is good to see.
“We are at the level where we hoped to be. We couldn’t have done any more. Now we need to make the car go faster.”
Meanwhile, team boss Ross Brawn is confident that Hamilton is the man who can turn the team into regular winners.
Brawn, who masterminded the career of seven-time world champion, Michael Schumacher, says he has been impressed with Hamilton’s eye for detail. And he has encouraged the former McLaren ace to continue with his criticism of their car to help hammer it into shape.
He added: “We have made it very clear to Lewis that he is part of the solution for this team to get us where we want to be.
“He knows that and understands it and I think he is relishing that.
“It is correct that he gives his reference points and helps us understand what we have to focus on.
“I welcome that approach. It needs to be positive and constructive, but criticism of the right sort is helpful to a team, it drives you forward. — Agencies
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault 1:18.565, 2. Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:18.669 52, 3. Lewis Hamilton (Bri) Mercedes 1:18.905 52; 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus-Renault 1:18.915 25, 5. Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.944 42, 6. Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:19.331 37, 7. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Renault 1:20.426 35, 8. Jules Bianchi (Fra) Force India-Mercedes 1:20.585 34, 9. Charles Pic (Fra) Caterham-Renault 1:21.919 38, 10. Luis Razia (Bra) Marussia-Cosworth 1:25.796 28, 11. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) Ferrari no time.
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