GP2 returnee Pastor Maldonado has put his name down for an impressive season after topping the timesheets on all three days of testing.
The Rapax driver wound up his final day’s work at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France with a fastest lap of 1:09.784 in the afternoon session, asserting himself in the face of a tough challenge in the morning from ART rookies Jules Bianchi and Sam Bird.
In a drying morning session on a short-configuration track and using soft tyres, ART placed their duo at the top of the timesheets with Bianchi just half a tenth quicker than Bird.
iSport’s Oliver Turvey had come in third, but his times were later cancelled after his iSport car was found to be underweight, with Dams’ Ho-Pin Tung suffering the same fate. Racing Engineering rookie Christian Vietoris thus inherited the third-best laptime of the session ahead of Maldonado.
Unable to complete a single lap yesterday afternoon following an crash at the pitlane exit, Super Nova newcomer Marcus Ericsson ended in fifth place ahead of Dani Clos, Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Charles Pic, Sergio Perez and Alberto Valerio. Max Chilton for Ocean Racing finished 18th.
In the afternoon session, disrupted by no less than six red flags, Super Nova’s Josef Kral dominated for most of the session until Vietoris bested him with one hour left on the clock and Maldonado moved up to P2.
The final red flag was caused by a collision between Ericsson and Adrian Zaugg fifteen minutes before the end. When the session restarted Maldonado claimed the top spot in the last two minutes, one tenth quicker than Bianchi.
Ocean’s Fabio Leimer finished third ahead of Vietoris, Bird, Kral, Ericsson, Cecotto, Clos and van der Garde. Turvey was 14th and Chilton 17th.
The final pre-season test is due to take place in Barcelona from on April 7-9.