Jerez: A day after Felipe Massa impressed with some newfound speed, Ferrari finished Formula One's first preseason test with a setback as new test pilot Pedro de la Rosa was forced to abandon his car when it began to spout smoke early on Friday. De la Rosa managed to return to the Jerez track and get in 50 laps in his debut behind the wheel of a Ferrari, but his best single-lap time was only the ninth fastest of the day.
Kimi Raikkonen steered his Lotus to the session's quickest lap in 1 minute, 18.148 seconds, leaving Massa and his 1:17.879 effort from Thursday as the best overall for the four-day test. Ferrari was plagued by subpar pace compared to the other title challengers last season.
"We're at the top of the timing monitors, but that means nothing in testing," Raikkonen said. "Our focus has been testing parts on the car, but I've been able to get the setup more to my liking. The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we're going with improvements."
Jules Bianchi, who is trying to convince Force India to promote him from his reserve role and team up with Paul di Resta, helped his case by clocking the second-fastest lap. World champion Sebastian Vettel was next in his Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton showed no signs of lingering nerves after crashing his new Mercedes into the barrier on Wednesday as he completed an incident-free 145 laps, which was the most of the day.
Hamilton said that he was settling in well with his new team. "I am learning something with every lap I do and every change I make to the setup. Overall, I think we are probably at the level we would have hoped to be," Hamilton said. "Everybody has been incredibly supportive and I am really building a good bond with the team. They feel energized, ready to go and everybody is working flat out to move us forward."
New Sauber pilot Esteban Gutierrez was the second busiest at just three laps behind Hamilton. Charles Pic of Caterham was the only other driver to finish more than 100 laps. De la Rosa was just on his second lap behind the wheel of the new F138 when smoke began to billow out of the car, making him stop on the track. However, he took the car back out a few hours later after mechanics made repairs on its faulty gearbox and stewards filled in a pot hole. Race officials added 30 minutes to the session to compensate for the stoppage.
This was De la Rosa's first time behind the wheel of the Ferrari after Massa practiced this week. Massa's teammate, Fernando Alonso, did not attend the Jerez tests. Friday was the final day of testing in southern Spain. There are two more tests in Barcelona before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 17.