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Suspicion rife at final F1 tests

2012-03-05 07:54


AUSSIE IN ACTION: Mark Webber was out in a new Red Bull in Spain on Saturday - but he wasn't very fast. Image: AFP

BARCELONA, Spain - Mark Webber completed his last day of pre-season Formula 1 testing here on Saturday with the current World champion team Red Bull handing him an upgraded car to try before his home Australian GP on March 18.

Rivals teams had suspected Red Bull would keep its secrets until race day but Webber was only eighth-fastest of 10 drivers on track and played down the importance of the new chassis and changes that included a revised exhaust layout and new front wing.


"The thing that everyone's obviously asking about is the changes we made to the car but I have to say the car was not very different to the one I drove on Thursday," Webber said. "We went through the normal programme, nothing drastic happened, and we just keep working away.

"It'll be good to get the season going."

Webber, who has never stood on the podium at his home race but won the final GP of 2011 in Brazil, later handed over the car to double World champion Sebastian Vettel for the Sunday session.

The Australian suggested McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus could be Red Bull's closest rivals with Ferrari something of a mystery.


The Italian team declared its drivers would not be available to the media at the test, in what some saw as a bad omen despite Ferrari's assurances that that was not the case. "The decision has been taken to keep the whole team fully focused on the job and there is not any polemic intent behind it," the team said.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was fourth fastest for Ferrari.

Sauber's Mexican Sergio Perez finished day three with the quickest lap after Lotus had set the pace on the previous two. McLaren's Jenson Button was second and Australian Daniel Ricciardo third for Toro Rosso.

Button, the 2009 World champion, said on Saturday he had a good feeling about the new package for Melbourne although he needed more time to find the right balance with a hydraulics problem in the morning and then rain in the afternoon.

"The car is feeling good. Whether we're fastest, second fastest, not fast, I don't know. But it feels we've made a good step," he grinned. "The Red Bull, in my opinion, was heavy on fuel. They made some upgrades but perhaps they don't want to show their hand."

Former World champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving a Lotus, eventually clocked the best overall time pn Sunday in the final week of pre-season testing at Montmelo. The Finn, who has returned to the sport after a spell in the World Rally championship, clocked 1min22.030 on Sunday after 164 laps.

In sharp contrast, defending World champion Sebastian Vettel was slowest with a 1min23.361 in his Red Bull after 108 laps. Here are Sunday's times/laps"

1 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus) 1min22.030 (164 laps
2 Sergio Perez (MEX/Sauber) 1min22.094 (232)
3 Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren) 1min22.103 (108)
4 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso) 1min22.155 (231)
5 Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) 1min22.250 (240)
6 Bruno Senna (BRA/Williams) 1min22.296 (212)
7 Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India) 1min22.312 (137)
8 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber) 1min22.386 (149)
9 Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari) 1min22.413 (227)
10 Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren) 1min22.430 (180)

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