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Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus throw down the gauntlet as the first pre-season test comes to an end at Jerez de la Frontera, though the Finn fails to beat Felipe Massa's Thursday best and Vettel's pace on the hard compound is worrying.
The 2007 world champion continued yesterday's programme of aerodynamic assessments as the fine weather continued, however proceedings were interrupted by red flag periods including a lengthy pause for track repairs, meaning the session concluded thirty minutes later than scheduled.
Amongst the boxes that needed to be ticked by The Iceman today were; systems checks, temperature monitoring, data correlation, assessment of the performance of the car with its initial aerodynamic package and exhaust exit evaluations. In total, the Finn completed 83 laps on his way to posting the best time of the day and the second best of the week.
"We continued our work from yesterday and made some good progress," said Raikkonen. "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."
"After the orgy of work at the factory to prepare the car over the winter months it is always a welcome relief once the testing campaign finally kicks off," admitted Technical Director, James Allison, "not because the pressure backs off, but because we get a chance - finally - to see what we have been working on.
"It is tremendously exciting for the whole team," he continued, "but very nerve wracking as well. We desperately want the performance to be good, but we are all aware of the thousands of potential traps in bringing a complex car to the track for the first time. We have had a good first test. The car seems competitive, and while there is always a background hubbub of problems to be solved, we are delighted with the basic reliability of the E21. With Jerez now behind us, our thoughts have already turned to Barcelona in ten days' time. There is a mountain of work ahead, but we are looking forward to our next opportunity to run the car."
For the third day this week Force India split its driver duties, Jules Bianchi running this morning before handing over to Paul di Resta. Between them the pair completed 105 laps on a day on which three drivers exceeded the 'magic number'.
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