The final group test before the teams head out to Bahrain got underway today at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona. With poor weather being a feature of the recent sessions at sister-circuit Jerez, the sky was thankfully clear today and the teams were able to complete some decent mileage in the new cars. On the first day of four, it was Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber who set the initial benchmark, going comfortably fastest with a stunning lap set on a group of short runs by the Australian. Webber’s fastest tour of Circuit de Catalunya was a full second quicker than his nearest main rival, Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes.
The RB6 showed its real potential today, with Webber’s long runs also proving the car has good, consistent pace. No other team could match the time set by the Red Bull and although Rosberg was the closest of the expected real rivals to Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg in fact finished the day in P2, just squeezing ahead of his fellow countryman in the final few minutes of the afternoon, simulating qualifying runs in the Williams FW32.
Fernando Alonso had a troubled day in the Ferrari F10, with the Spaniard bringing out the red flag after the car stopped on track in the morning with an electrical fault. Alonso wasn’t able to rejoin the circuit until just prior to the lunch break, and in total was only able to complete 74 laps. Despite this though, Alonso did not set low-fuel times and therefore his P7 in the tables is perhaps a little false of the true pace of the machine.
Jenson Button was also attempting longer runs in the MP4-25, only setting his fastest lap of the day in the afternoon and in the middle of a 14-lap run. The reigning world champion also caused a red flag, his run coming to an abrupt end just before the session was about to be closed.
Virgin Racing continued their woes, with Lucas Di Grassi spinning off at lunchtime and backing the VR-01 into the barriers. The resulting damage ended the team’s running early but the squad are hoping to be able to continue tomorrow after replacement parts are flown out to the Spanish circuit from the team’s base in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. This incident meant that Di Grassi only completed 31 laps, and Virgin need to end the issues they have been facing with the car being damaged and start racking up the mileage.
The busiest driver of the day was Jaime Alguersuari, who toured Circuit de Catalunya 111 times in the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5. Alguersuari ended his day in P9, 0.7s behind rookie Renault driver Vitaly Petrov. Of the other drivers running, Pedro De La Rosa ended his afternoon in P4 in the Sauber and showing promising signs of improvement. Vitantonio Liuzzi finished in P6, just about maintaining his position ahead of Alonso’s Ferrari.
Testing continues in Barcelona tomorrow where it is expected for Michael Schumacher to take over from Rosberg in the Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton will take over from Button in the McLaren, Jarno Trulli will drive the Lotus and Sebastian Vettel will resume duties in the Red Bull.
|1.||Mark Webber Red Bull Racing||1m21.487s||109 Laps|
|2.||Nico Hulkenberg Williams||1m22.407s||81 Laps|
|3.||Nico Rosberg Mercedes||1m22.514s||107 Laps|
|4.||Pedro De La Rosa Sauber||1m23.144s||73 Laps|
|5.||Jenson Button McLaren||1m23.452s||100 Laps|
|6.||Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India||1m24.064s||64 Laps|
|7.||Fernando Alonso Ferrari||1m24.170s||74 Laps|
|8.||Vitaly Petrov Renault||1m24.173s||73 Laps|
|9.||Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m24.869s||111 Laps|
|10.||Lucas Di Grassi Virgin Racing||1m27.057s||31 Laps|
|11.||Fairuz Fauzy Lotus||1m28.002s||76 Laps|