Perez shows Sauber potential

Sergio Perez gave Sauber plenty to smile about over lunch on Thursday by setting the fastest time on the third morning of testing at Barcelona.

Late on Tuesday Perez lit up the timing screens with an unprecedented lap, but it turned out he had skipped the final chicane in order to avoid traffic. However, the lap on Thursday morning was genuine and set over a single flying lap, most likely on low fuel. The time was the best of the week, pipping the one set by Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull on a seven lap run on Wednesday.

The track temperature certainly played its part, with the surface of the circuit peaking over 30C before lunch. It was the first day of the test so far with completely blue skies, something McLaren
, which is having a day off before running on Friday and Saturday, might rue if the clouds return at the end of the week.

Felipe Massa set the second fastest time, also on a one lap run, as he resumed Ferrari's test program with a new exhaust and aero package fitted to the car. The team said it spent the morning verifying data from the new aero tweaks to the car and once again Massa clocked up an impressively high mileage with over 50 laps.

Mark Webber was third fastest after setting the early morning pace on a five lap run. On Tuesday he said he was keen to get one last race simulation completed before Australia, so his afternoon could be dominated by longer runs split up by practice pit stops.

Rubens Barrichello was fourth fastest as Williams got their week back on track with well over 60 laps in the morning. However, just before lunch the car stopped on track between turns three and four, giving the mechanics plenty to do in the hour's break. The FW33 was running without KERS, which proved troublesome on Wednesday and limited Pastor Maldonado to just 29 laps.

Meanwhile Michael Schumacher returned to the cockpit of the Mercedes, but like Nico Rosberg on Wednesday, did not trouble the top of the timesheets and instead focused on testing the reliability of the car's new aero and cooling package.

  • 1. Sergio Perez Sauber C30 1:21.761
  • 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 150 1:22.092
  • 3. Mark Webber Red Bull RB7 1:22.466
  • 4. Rubens Barrichello Williams FW33 1:22.637
  • 5. Vitaly Petrov Renault R31 1:24.233
  • 6. Adrian Sutil Force India VJM04 1:24.334
  • 7. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR6 1:24.779
  • 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes W02 1:25.779
  • 9. Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin MVR-02 1:29.410
  • 10. Jarno Trulli Lotus T128 1:34.485