Heidfeld fastest in Jerez
Nick Heidfeld has finished at the top of the timesheet on the third day of pre-season tests in Jerez, as he auditions as a possible replacement for Kubica.
Attention centered on the Renault garage this morning as German driver Nick Heidfeld got behind the wheel of the new R31 to be evaluated by the team as a possible replacement for Robert Kubica, who is currently recovering from injuries he sustained in a high speed rally accident in Italy last weekend.
In the morning session, Heidfeld completed a series of short runs, and was soon eclipsing Vitaly Petrov’s best times from his two days testing the R31 previous. As the day continued, Heidfeld continued to put in consistent lap times and completed 86 laps of the Jerez circuit. His fastest lap of the day of 1m 20.361s came at the start of an eight lap run on the super soft tyre, and was in fact only 0.009 seconds off Michael Schumacher's best time of the week.
Speaking about his test session Heidfeld said: “I really enjoyed the day. It was fun driving the car, although it obviously takes time to get used to things when it’s your first time in a car and working with a new team. We had a good day, without too many problems, and luckily all the changes we made to the car went in the right direction and improved things, so I was able to push harder and harder. In terms of the lap times, it’s very difficult for me to compare with the other teams because we don’t know the fuel levels or what the others were doing. My first impressions of the car were positive, although there are always areas where you can improve.”
Lotus team boss, Eric Boullier added: “Today we had the chance to give Nick time in the car and we carried out a big evaluation. Our first feelings are very positive: he worked well with the team, gave good feedback and improved the car during the day. We managed to cover 86 laps and the times are encouraging, which is also thanks to Robert and Vitaly’s early feedback and the hard work of everybody in the team.”
Bruno Senna is expected to take over testing for the Renault team tomorrow. The team will then make an announcement before the third pre-season tests in Barcelona on who will replace injured Kubica for the start of the new season.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso returned to the cockpit of the F150th Italia for the first time since the Valencia tests today, which drew huge crowds to the circuit to cheer on their Spanish hero. Alonso didn’t disappoint setting the fastest time in the morning session, and finishing second just 0.132s behind Heidfeld after completing an impressive 131 laps over the course of the day.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s fastest man Michael Schumacher finished third fastest. Speaking about the Jerez tests so far Schumacher said: "At the end of my two test days in Jerez, I can only be happy with what we have achieved here. Once again today, we completed a lot of mileage, and with the exception of some smaller issues, we ran very well which enables us to steadily progress with our testing programme."
Adding: "This is exactly what you want at this period of time. I am now looking forward to continuing the development at the next test in Barcelona starting on Friday." Nico Rosberg will take over for the final test day tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton finished fourth in the new McLaren MP4-26. However, the testing of the new McLaren seemed to veer slightly as Hamilton only completed 33 laps, the least of any car at the test.
It was the current World Champion, Sebastian Vettel’s turn to test for Red Bull today. Completing 98 laps the German driver finished sixth fastest, behind the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi.
Although, Sauber’s day wasn’t without incident again today as Kobayashi stopped twice on track, causing two red flags. A third red flag was caused when Paul di Resta suffered a brake problem, which saw him carry straight on in to the turn nine gravel trap. Luckily he walked away unharmed. The team later stated that the brake issue had been troubling the car's progress all day.
F1 TEAM TESTING -T02 – JEREZ (SATURDAY)
Paul di Resta
All timing unofficial