The third test session in Barcelona brought quite a surprise as Pastor Maldonado topped the morning half of the session with a time just two tenths faster than Hulkenberg's session topping time yesterday. The Venezuelan put in a solid 52 laps before lunch and headed into the afternoon with a whole second over Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes. Maldonado maintained that gap throughout the rest of the session and set a final lap count of 106. Schumacher kept his second, proving that the new Mercedes F1 W03 has certainly made progress since yesterday.
Schumacher's time in the Mercedes was cruicial for a late starting team. He managed to set twenty-one more timed laps than Maldonado, but was unable to get even close to the Williams driver's time. Michael was happy with second going into the second half of the session, and even more delighted to keep that second at the end of the day. Considering that part of Maldonado's speed was running on the supersoft tires, Michael's performance to stick with him was pretty good, even if he was a second down. Grip is a big advantage and if Schumi can keep up with less grip, that comes to prove that he still has something left in him.
Another man who had quite a result was Sauber driver, Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese driver was handed the car by Sergio Perez, who had driven in the first two sessions. Not being in the car didn't slow down Kamui, who had his flare just like always. He was leading the time sheets for some time in the beginning of the session, and it looked as if that's how it would stay. Kobayashi had 59 laps completed, a time of 1:23.5 set, and what looked to be a session topping drive when his car stopped on the circuit. The cause is still unknown, but it wasn't major and the Japanese driver did 40 more laps after lunch and maintained his third position.
Jenson Button and McLaren were still off the pace and only managed fourth overall. What made it worse is saying that they were behind a Williams, a Sauber that broke down, and a Mercedes who should be slower than them. It was better than the sixths and sevenths that they have been getting, but being a front running team, they should have the pace to be first or second on the time sheets. The next car was the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, who was half a second behind Jenson.
Felipe Massa continued Ferrari's mediocre streak with the sixth fastest time heading into lunch. Yesterday Fernando Alonso was able to bring himself up to third by the end of the session, but can Felipe do that as well? No. In fact, he and Mark Webber set identical lap times at the end of the day, but the advantage in position went to the Red Bull driver and the Ferrari went down to seventh. It was one of the worst test sessions for Red Bull too, but other teams and reporters have mentioned that they are still the fastest cars currently out there.
Timo Glock was able to put the old Marussia ahead of the new Caterham by eight tenths. Vitaly Petrov went out again so he would be able to continue getting to know the new car. It seems as if he hasn't come to grips with it yet, but he may be getting close. Paul di Resta was the only driver behind the Caterham, because of a piece of bodywork flying off his car. The Scotsman did 20 laps and is expected to get back out onto the track after the lunch break. And indeed he did, and was able to launch his way up to eighth.
Here are the final results for the third test session in Barcelona:
|1.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams FW34||1:22.391||106 Laps|
|2.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W03||1:23.384||127|
|3.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber C31||1:23.582||99|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren MP4-27||1:23.918||114|
|5.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso STR07||1:24.433||78|
|6.|| Mark Webber || Red Bull RB8 ||1:24.771||97|
|7.||Felipe Massa|| Ferrari F2012 ||1:24.771||84|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Force India VJM05||1:25.646||83|
|9.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham CT01||1:26.929||70|
|10.||2011 Car - T Glock||Marussia MVR-02||1:26.173||108|