Jerez: Kimi ends test on top
Kimi Raikkonen capped a promising first week of testing for the new E21 on the fourth and final day of the Jerez test as Lotus became the first team in 2013 to finish on top of the timesheets twice.
On a dramatic Friday in southern Spain which saw Ferrari's F138 catch fire, the action suspended for nearly an hour due to the emergence of a gaping pothole and Mercedes continue their reliability fightback, Lotus's 'Iceman' hit the top of the timesheets mid-way through the extended afternoon in a short run on the soft tyre.
His pacesetting time of 1:18.148 was the second fastest seen across all four days of the test and just slightly out of reach of Force India's Jules Bianchi, who had earlier lapped a mere 0.027 slower in a similar run to do his chances of finally landing the second seat at the team no harm at all.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel finished the day four tenths back on Raikkonen but his fastest lap was arguably in reality the most impressive of the entire test given it came on the hardest of Pirellis tyres, two steps up from the compound Raikkonen used to go fastest.
"I think for the whole team it's been quite a good test," commented Vettel. "No problems in terms of reliability and we did a lot of laps, so I'm quite pleased with the results. I feel a bit better than last year. I think we had some issues with reliability then, so it seems we have done our homework well."
Elsewhere, Sauber and the recovering Mercedes team vied for the honour of completing the highest number of laps - and for the second straight day it went to the latter, Lewis Hamilton putting his Day Two brake failure firmly behind him by registering 145 laps.
That tally was just three shy of team-mate Nico Rosberg's total from the previous day and meant that the W04 has now clocked up the equivalent of four race distances in two days. Quite the recovery.
"I am learning something with every lap I do and every change I make to the set-up," said Hamilton. "Overall, I think we are probably at the level we would have hoped to be. The team has done a great job to add downforce to the car over the winter and they now need Nico and me to tell them where we can improve and the direction we need to go."
However, the day's biggest story centered around Ferrari after new development driver Pedro de la Rosa's debut for the team stalled almost before it had begun when Day Three's pacesetting car broke down for the first time - and spectacularly so.
The Spanish veteran was halfway through his second installation lap when the car started billowing smoke from its rear which grounded it to a halt, the team later tracing the small fire and resultant smoke to a gearbox problem.
The failure cost Ferrari several hours of track time as they replaced the gearbox and repaired the charred bodywork - although nearly an hour of that proved dead track time in any case as officials red flagged the session to repair a pothole on the exit kerb at turn nine.