Felipe Massa claimed on Friday morning that he was ‘happier than he expected to be’ at new team Williams, and the Brazilian will be even happier having topped the timesheets on the final day of pre-season testing at the Jerez circuit in Spain. The former Ferrari man got one over on ex-team-mate Fernando Alonso and posted a 1:28:229 to set the pace before a red flag brought an end to proceedings.
The morning dawned cooler and wetter than the previous three days, but it didn’t stop all the teams and drivers going out and putting in some significant laps – most notably Nico Rosberg who racked up 91 laps in another race simulation period for Mercedes. The run went without incident and the morning session was also the first this week where the red flag was notable by its absence. Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo both managed to get back to the pits after their runs under their own steam, something that has been seriously lacking for the Renault-powered teams this week. However, there was a more positive start to the day for the returning Kamui Kobayashi who made his Caterham debut in the unique CT05, lapping consistently without any issues to get back into the swing of F1 after a year away in the FIA GT Championship. Unfortunately, the Japanese driver, whose F1 return was funded by his own fan’s donations, came to end with a ‘power unit failure’ as described by Caterham, late in the afternoon. Renault had an exceptionally difficult day as Red Bull finished early and Renault’s director of trackside operations, Remi Taffin, was taken to hospital with appendicitis.
There was an impressive cameo by Dani Juncadella in the Force India throughout the day, the team’s test and reserve driver churning out some usefully consistent laptimes in the morning before moving on to his afternoon program post-lunch and swiftly passing the sixty lap mark. Lewis Hamilton returned to the cockpit for Mercedes as the day entered its final hours to make up for the time lost due to his accident on Tuesday.
Fernando Alonso put in a 1:35:334 to head the timesheets before the midday break, and the Spaniard was clearly enjoying himself as he slid the F14T around getting to grips with the new style of power application needed with the 2014-spec V6 Turbo engines. Elsewhere, Sauber continued to struggle with brake problems that have afflicted them all week until Adrian Sutil span at the final chicane and brought more woe after his mistake yesterday, while Kevin Magnussen continued in the cockpit of the McLaren until he too lost the rear of his car and was forced to take a lift back to the pits. He got back out before the end of the day but was caught out again, this time when he lost control of his MP4/29 at the exit of turn ten and took the front wing off.
Full analysis to follow.
TIMES – JEREZ DAY FOUR 31st January 2014