Another four-day test session ended today with Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber on top of the timesheets. Over the past four days, four teams have taken their turns in this position. It is entirely unclear who is going to come out on top, with McLaren, Red Bull, Force India, Mercedes and others all impressing. Until their issues on Tuesday, Lotus had seemed a contender, but losing a four-day test is a huge setback. Caterham have also been struggling with reliability issues, and will be hoping for better next week.
The final pre-season test is from Thursday until Sunday or Friday until Monday (Red Bull, Ferrari) at Barcelona next week. Lotus are likely to run from Thursday until Monday.
The strong field in the 2012 FR 3.5 season grew even stronger today with the addition of Mercedes test driver Sam Bird (6th in GP2 last year after a strong season with iSport) and Jake Rosenzweig. They will be teammates at ISR, who fielded Daniel Ricciardo last year. Italian media also reports that Nicolay Martsenko has signed for BVM-Target.
Italian driver Fabrizio Crestani has becoming Lazarus’s first signing. The Italian, who took part in some of the 2010 season with DPR and the 2008-09 GP2 Asia season with Ocean (scoring no points either time), came 6th in Auto GP last year with the same team. He scored one pole and four podiums.
Meanwhile, a technical partnership has been formed between Marussia F1 Team and Carlin Racing. There are already links between the teams after Marussia-sponsored Robert Wickens drove to FR 3.5 victory with Carlin last year. While Marussia Manor Racing and Carlin are opponents in GP3, they will be a single team in GP2, known as Marussia Carlin, and will race in the black and red livery. Driving for Marussia Carlin will be Max Chilton (from the Carlin side) and Rio Haryanto (from the Manor side). Indonesian Rio won two races in GP3 last season – Valtteri Bottas was the only other driver to win more than one race – including the hectic dry-to-wet feature race at the Nurburgring. He is a well-deserved graduate from GP3, and his presence should make a good improvement to what honestly is an otherwise boring field of drivers.