Barcelona day one - Webber sets the standard
Red Bulls Mark Webber topped the timesheets as the final pre-season test began at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday. Webbers best time, a 1m 21.487s, was over nine-tenths of a second faster than the quickest lap from second-placed runner Nico Hulkenberg in the Williams.
With the weather largely settled and dry, the 11 teams in action at the Spanish circuit enjoyed a productive first day, with fastest runner Webber managing to complete 109 laps in the RB6.
We had a pretty good day of testing, said the Australian. We did some simulations and performance items in the morning and a race simulation in the afternoon. We had a precautionary stop in the middle of the race simulation because of a gearbox oil alarm, but the guys got the car turned around pretty quickly and we finished the session, so it wasnt too bad.
Mercedes GPs Nico Rosberg ended the day in third, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa for BMW Sauber. Rosberg focused on set-up work in the MGP W01, but also carried out race weekend procedures, which included qualifying runs and pit-stop simulations.
"We had a productive day today and we were able to learn a great deal from doing so many laps, he said. We're making good use of the testing time that we have and I'm feeling quite confident and comfortable in the car. Aerodynamically the car will change quite significantly for the first race in Bahrain so we're not focusing on the details but on general set-up work and seeing how the car behaves over long runs.
De la Rosa, meanwhile, completed a Bahrain-focused aero test. Although pleased with progress, technical director Willy Rampf believes the team still have work to do to. Today we have been concentrating on different mechanical set-ups and different downforce levels in preparation for the Bahrain Grand Prix, explained Rampf. We are not satisfied with the car's balance yet, but we have recorded a great deal of useful data which will help us further improve it."
McLaren were fifth with reigning world champion Jenson Button at the helm of the MP4-25. Concentrating primarily on mechanical and aerodynamic set-up work, Button completed 101 laps. Team mate Lewis Hamilton will take over the McLaren cockpit on Friday.
Force Indias Vitantonio Liuzzi ended the day in sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso for Ferrari. Liuzzi covered 65 laps in the VJM03 as he carried out set-up work. Alonso completed just 74 laps, after his F10 suffered an electrical problem during the morning. The Spaniard will continue to test on Friday.
Eighth slot went to Renaults Vitaly Petrov, who finished almost seven-tenths of a second ahead of Toro Rossos Jaime Alguersuari. Petrov carried out set-up work and practiced pit stops. Alguersuari, meanwhile, covered 111 laps in the STR5 as he evaluated a new brake system.
It was encouraging to have another trouble free day, completing a high mileage, the young Spaniard said. We learned a lot doing long runs on the soft compound tyre and Im looking forward to tackling a different programme tomorrow.
Lucas di Grassi, tenth, had completed 31 laps for Virgin when a spin at Turn Nine brought an early end to his running.
We are continuing to debug the car hydraulics and making good progress in our understanding of the issue, explained Virgins technical director Nick Wirth. Unfortunately when we were running some experimental control settings on the car, which were adversely affecting its handling, this caught Lucas out on the entry to Turn Nine resulting in a spin and contact with the barrier.
"Were going to need to spend the time before tomorrow replacing some broken suspension and wings. We should be back on track tomorrow morning when we hope to really start building up our mileage.
Fairuz Fauzy was the days final runner. The Lotus reserve driver completed 76 laps in the T127.
It was a very productive day, with no mechanical worries on the car, explained chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. In the morning we conducted some engine LAMDA running which we completed successfully. We ran through a series of system set up checks, completed our first starts and evaluated a number of other control systems on the car, as well as monitoring temperatures and pressures throughout the car.
"All in all this was a successful day both on the track and we ticked off a lot of behind the scenes tasks ahead of the first race. Fairuz did a very good job today, with no mistakes, and we were able to complete our whole programme.
Testing will continue at Barcelona until Sunday.
Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.487, 109 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:22.407, 82 Laps
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:22.514, 107 Laps
4. Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:23.144, 73 Laps
5. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.452, 101 Laps
6. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:24.064, 65 Laps
7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:24.170, 74 Laps
8. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:24.173, 74 Laps
9. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:24.869, 111 Laps
10. Lucas di Grassi, Virgin, 1:27.057, 31 Laps
11. Fairuz Fauzy, Lotus, 1:28.002, 76 Laps