The rain in Spain fell mainly on Jerez on Thursday – but it allowed Sebastian Vettel to put in another superb wet-weather performance, this time in the Red Bull car.
The Toro Rosso driver, who is due to replace David Coulthard at Red Bull next year, topped the unofficial timesheets on a rare wet day at the Andalusian circuit – despite an unscheduled engine change that caused him to miss the potentially fastest time window on the track.
He failed to crack the 1:18 barrier by just two-thousanths of a second – and was closely followed by BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld, less than two tenths of a second below him.
In third was Lucas di Grassi, testing for Renault, just scraping into the 1:18 times. McLaren’s Spanish tester Pedro de la Rosa was in fourth place and more than a second below Vettel.
His running was curtailed by the weather, with his team saying: “Rain fell during the final two-and-a-half hours of the day, the team elected to remain in the garage for this time to focus on preparing the car for the final day of running.”
Honda’s Alexander Wurz came fifth after switching to wet tyres, while former Honda and Super Aguri driver Takuma Sato was in the car for Toro Rosso where he put in a sixth-placed performance of 1:19.574.
He said: “My first experience with the team was when I went to Faenza last week for a seat fitting. It was great to see the passion from the Italian mechanics and engineers there – that gave me a good feeling from the start.
“This morning I started by collecting aero data for the package the team is developing. I then had a few timed runs with the opportunity to change the set-up and learn how the car reacted, that was very interesting.
“I very much enjoyed the working process with the engineers so it was very disappointing that we weren’t able to run in the afternoon due to the rain.
“Apart from some karting, I had no single-seater running in the past four and a half months. Obviously I was doing physical training to prepare for any time I was back in F1, but the best training is always in the car. However I had no problems, the car felt quick and I soon felt very much at home and enjoying myself.”
Seventh was Kamui Kobayashi, continuing his test for Toyota while Kazuki Nakajima was once again badly off the pace in eighth place.
All the teams continued testing aerodynamic configurations for the remainder of the season, as well as working on KERS development.
Force India is not taking part in this test while Ferrari has been conducting tests at its Mugello circuit.
Day three test times:
- Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull: 1:18.001 (37 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:18.167 (70 laps)
- Lucas di Grassi, Renault: 1:18.999 (36 laps)
- Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren: 1:19.281 (39 laps)
- Alexander Wurz, Honda: 1:19.499 (79 laps)
- Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso: 1:19.574 (49 laps)
- Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota: 1:19.863 (47 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:21.892 (60 laps)