Raikkonen sets pace on day 3

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Lotus F1 appears to be having a nice test session in Jerez this week. Romain Grosjean set the pace for day 2 of testing while his teammate and 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, set the pace for day 3.

The Finn says that  this year is easier as he knows the team better and they know him. They certainly do as they’ve created custom T-shirts with Kimi’s famous radio scolding saying, “Leave me along, I know what I’m doing”.

Raikkonen says this year’s car feels better than last year but he’s under no illusion that the team will go from 4th place to world champions over the course of a winter. Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes are all working hard as well.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel had set the pace in the morning session eclipsing Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez. The track experienced some difficulty as a hole had appeared and the circuit was forced to be closed until repairs could be made over lunch. The final session was extended thirty minutes to accomodate the repairs.

The takeaway for me is the pace of Jules Bianchi who is gunning for a seat at Force India. The team said they would announce their second driver, to team with Paul di Resta, at the first test but official announcements have not been offered as to their decision. Jules said:

“My first experience of the new car was very positive and it’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car. I spent most of the time on the medium tyres, but I got a chance to run the softs as well and they offered a lot of grip so I enjoyed that. It was also nice to do some long runs, so I’ve felt the car on heavy fuel, which is good for my experience. I’m pleased the team asked me to help out this week and I’m happy with how things went today.” 

Pos  Driver                 Team            Time                Laps
 1.  Kimi Raikkonen         Lotus           1m18.148s           83
 2.  Jules Bianchi          Force India     1m18.175s  + 0.027  56
 3.  Sebastian Vettel       Red Bull        1m18.565s  + 0.417  96
 4.  Esteban Gutierrez      Sauber          1m18.669s  + 0.521  142
 5.  Jean-Eric Vergne       Toro Rosso      1m18.760s  + 0.612  92
 6.  Lewis Hamilton         Mercedes        1m18.905s  + 0.757  145
 7.  Sergio Perez           McLaren         1m18.944s  + 0.796  98
 8.  Valtteri Bottas        Williams        1m19.851s  + 1.703  92
 9.  Pedro de la Rosa       Ferrari         1m20.316s  + 2.168  51
10.  Charles Pic            Caterham        1m21.105s  + 2.957  109
11.  Luiz Razia             Marussia        1m21.226s  + 3.078  82
12.  Paul di Resta          Force India     1m23.435s  + 5.287  49
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