Lewis Hamilton had to surrender his top-ranking rookie status to Robert Kubica at Jerez today after the Pole laid down a blazing lap time to easily top the standings.
And youth triumphed over experience on a day when the best performance Michael Schumacher could muster was a mere eighth, some seven-tenths of a second behind the leader and to the rear of a man who has not yet driven a F1 car in anger – Nelson Piquet Jr.
Maybe it would have been safe to let him have a go on the same circuit as Raikkonen after all. Although, if a post-test statement by Red Bull is to be believed (see below) it was all down to tyres anyway.
We mention this because another veteran who may have been wistfully recalling an earlier test was Red Bull’s David Coulthard.
From second place in the standings yesterday, just a whisper behind that young pup Hamilton, in a far inferior car, he had to put up with 17th today.
However he probably wasn’t half as wistful as Ralf Schumacher, testing for Force India, who found himself left firmly at the bottom of the standings as the cars returned to their garages, more than half a second behind fellow tester Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Lewis Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa for McLaren were working on slick tyres and the corresponding aerodynamic set-up for 2009.
Red Bull said in its post-test team statement: “Back in the mists of time, there used to be a series of races referred to as ‘Formula Libre,’ which meant drivers could take part in just about any car they fancied.
“Today’s testing was not quite as chaotic as those events, but the fact that some people were running normal grooved tyres while others used the 2009 slicks, definitely made it impossible to give much meaning to lap times.”
It went on to say that Coulthard and Webber had swapped cars so that the Scotsman had a crack at the one with the 2008 specification electronic control unit (ECU) while the Aussie drove the 2007 machine without its driver aids.
“Mark had a profitable morning, working through an aero programme as well as trying out the 2009 slick tyres. David concentrated on evaluating the 2008 electronics and had a good day.”
Times on day three:
- Robert Kubica, BMW-Sauber: 1:19.157 (87 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes: 1:19.331 (63 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:19.333 (68 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:19.605 (63 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:19.687 (40 laps)
- Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes: 1:19.787 (74 laps)
- Nelson Piquet, Renault: 1:19.834 (90 laps)
- Michael Schumacher, Ferrari: 1:19.885 (67 laps)
- Rubens Barrichello, Honda: 1:19.905 (89 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW-Sauber: 1:20.125 (87 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:20.301 (65 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:20.339 (56 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:20.507 (55 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:20.775 (99 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:20.802 (39 laps)
- Luca Filippi, Honda: 1:20.915 (83 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:21.055 (62 laps)
- Takuma Sato, Super Aguri: 1:21.093 (79 laps)
- Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India (76 laps)
- Ralf Schumacher, Force India: 1:21.853 (71 laps)