On a brighter day in the Catalan region of Spain, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took the fastest lap in testing for the second day in succession. His speed was compounded by team mate Heikki Kovalainen going second quickest as the pair outpaced Ferrari in their preparations for the season opener in Australia next month. McLaren were concentrating on qualifying and race simulations while evaluating new developments on the MP4-23. Kimi Raikkonen kept the pressure up though and went third just 0.3s shy of Kovalainen and over 0.6s ahead of fourth placed Nico Rosberg.
The Williams duo continued to look reasonably strong with Rosberg in a fine fourth and Kazuki Nakajima in eleventh. The pair racked up 175 laps between them as most teams used the time to run full-race simulations to properly assess how the cars handle over a long time period. Felipe Massa took fifth place after 102 laps, but surprisingly only managed to keep ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella by 0.003s. Fisichella, in his new Force India, showed once again that the new team on the grid are looking quite handy. Yesterday Adrian Sutil managed ninth, just 0.8s off of leader Lewis Hamilton’s pace.
It was a good day, we did over 100 laps and worked through all the schedule. I was struggling with the front locking at first, but then we understood what the problem was and made a change so the car was back to normal and at the end I was comfortable and confident and able to improve my lap times. I am happy with the new package, it is better with more downforce and has more stability, but we have still got something more for the first race so it looks quite encouraging. Giancarlo Fisichella.
In a change to his regular surroundings, Sebastian Vettel tested for Red Bull today, the German filling in for David Coulthard who picked up a minor neck injury yesterday and opting to sit out of today’s running in order to rest. Vettel did well, showing that he has a knack of going fast from the offset. When the young man filled in for Robert Kubica last year at Indianapolis, he managed to be on the pace straight away, and once again he performed similarly when he moved to STR later in the season. As his STR team only had one car to play with at this test it seemed a wise decision to let Vettel drive for Red Bull, and he claimed seventh after 109 laps of Circuit de Catalunya.
Jenson Button surprised a little by squeezing into ninth in his Honda. Up until now the car hasn’t looked particularly quick, and admittedly being behind a Force India isn’t much to shout about. Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi completed the top ten with a impressive turn of the wheel, managing 1.8s shy of Hamilton at the top. Toyota and Renault appeared to flounder a little, although this isn’t new news for Toyota to be fair. Jarno Trulli edged in to twelfth but team mate Timo Glock ended up last in nineteenth. Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr were out for Renault but the former world champion could only muster thirteenth and Piquet slotted into eighteenth. Although the team still thought it was a productive day.
Good circuit conditions today so we could get on with our programmes. We had some interesting stuff to try that had arrived from the factory and we go some good results from that. We also did some aerodynamic development and some chassis set-up work, which gave some positive results. So another good day’s work, and we’ll take that into tomorrow and continue with our preparations for the first race in Melbourne. Christian Silk, Renault.
BMW also didn’t look so hot today, which is particularly strange after they performed so well earlier in the year during the dry tests at Valencia and Jerez. It is fair to say that the track today was still a little green but most drivers said the grip improved a lot as the day wore on and this enabled the drivers to work the cars a little harder. What is worrying about Robert Kubica’s eighth and Nick Heidfeld’s fifteenth is that Barcelona is the host of the Spanish Grand Prix; Jerez and Valencia (Ricardo Tormo) are not hosting a race. So of all the tracks you want to get right on the testing calendar it would have to be this one. We shall see where they are tomorrow and of course on the Albert Park grid on March 15th.
Barcelona Day Two Test Times
|Red Bull Racing
|Scuderia Toro Rosso
|Red Bull Racing
|Nelson Piquet Jr