Pastor Maldonado dominated the third day of Formula 1 testing at Barcelona on Thursday, giving Williams a timely boost ahead of the season opener in March.
Maldonado clocked the day's best time of 1min 22.391sec after completing 106 laps, having also been the quickest driver in the morning session.
He commented later: “It was a good day today, as we completed all of our planned programme with no issues
“We have put more mileage on the car which is great for everybody here and back at the factory as we now have a lot more data to analyse. The car is progressing well and I feel everything is going in the right direction.”
Seven-times World champion Michael Schumacher was second fastest with 1min 23.384sec in his Mercedes while Kamui Kobayashi, in a Sauber, was third with 1min 23.582sec.
Schumacher said: “I'm very happy with the race simulation that we ran this afternoon. It confirmed what we have seen from the first tests with our new car, and that we don't seem to have any big issues with reliability.
“The small things from the last two days I would rate as typical testing issues. So from my side, I am happy with our first full testing session, and we have definitely improved our game which is what we wanted to achieve.
“To what extent, we can only see later, but I am finishing with a positive feeling.”
PROBLEMS FOR LOTUS
Kobayashi also expressed satisfaction with his time, coming on his first day behind the wheel of the 2012 Sauber.
“It was my first day of driving the new car in Barcelona, and it was a good one,” he said.
“We had no noteworthy problems all day and went through a lot of test items. I can feel we have made some progress compared to the test in Jerez. But, of course, we have a lot more work to do and there is room for improvement.”
Meanwhile, Lotus were granted permission on Thursday to test at Silverstone next week after being forced out of the ongoing pre-season test here because of a problem with the car's chassis.
Testing will conclude here on Friday with a final series at the same circuit from March 1-4, before the teams travel to Australia for the opening race of the season in Melbourne on March 18. - AFP
TEST TIMES - 23 FEBRUARY
1 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams - 1min22.391 (106 laps)
2 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes - 1min23.384 (127)
3 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber - 1min23.582 (99)
4 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren - 1min23.918 (114)
5 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - 1min24.433 (78)
6 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull - 1min24.771 (97)
7 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari - 1min24.771 (84)
8 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India - 1min25.646 (83)
9 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia - 1min26.173 (108)
10 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham - 1min26.448 (70)