Nico Rosberg set the fastest time today in Barcelona, in a dry afternoon session after a wet morning, which gave the teams a chance to evaluate the Pirelli intermediate tyre.
The Mercedes driver did a lap of 1m23.168s on a qualifying simuation run towards the end of the day. As always not too much can be read into the headline lap times as many other drivers did not do a qualifying simulation run, preferring to focus their dry running time on a race simulation.
Vitaly Petrov set the second fastest time ahead of Lewis Hamilton, whose McLaren again suffered some niggling problems. But that didn’t stop him from doing over 90 laps in the day. “We’ve had a few technical issues with this car, but the guys have been working incredibly to rectify them,” said Hamilton. “To get more than 90 laps under my belt today was a big positive.”
Mark Webber covered an enormous 139 laps today, more than two times the distance of the Spanish Grand Prix. He did a race simulation in the afternoon, but didn’t manage a qualifying simulation, so he was only fifth fastest. Interestingly, although the track was still rubbering in after the rain, a comparison of the pace between Webber’s 66 race laps en route to victory last season in Barcelona and today’s pace shows that it is at least three seconds a lap slower due to the changes in the cars and the Pirelli tyres. Last May his long second stint was mainly in the 1m 25s, while today his faster stint was in the 1m 28s and 29s.
Felipe Massa also did a race simulation in the afternoon in the Ferrari, with similar pace on the long runs to the Red Bull. The Ferrari is looking like a good car, but we have yet to establish where it stands in outright pace on a Q3 qualifying special compared to the Red Bull. Last season that was Red Bull’s ace. Let’s hope we get to see that tomorrow.
There was certainly no strong indication from today’s long runs of much of a difference between the Ferrari and Red Bull. Rosberg did two long runs rather than a race simulation, but the pace was quite a bit slower than the Red Bull and Ferrari.
Toro Rosso gave young Australian Daniel Ricciardo a run again today, sharing the car with Sebastien Buemi. Giorgio Mondini had a run in the HRT car today, alongside F1 returnee Narain Kartikeyan.
Jarno Trulli lost some time with a water leak in the Lotus, but sounded very positive about the new car and the performance it is capable of. “Overall I have a good feeling about the car,” he said. “It’s good to see that without doing many miles, and it being my first day in the car today on the new tyres in Barcelona, I managed to do some consistently good lap times throughout the end of the afternoon session.” Trulli did a couple of runs with laps in the low 1m26s high 1m25s, which compared well to Timo Glock in the Virgin, when he was doing similar short runs at the end of the day. The Virgin however covered twice the distance of the Lotus today.
Meanwhile in the ongoing debate about whether the first race of the season should be cancelled, Bernie Ecclestone has said that he will leave the decision up to the ruling family in Bahrain. This leaves the way open for the race to be postponed rather than cancelled, with the accompanying legal and insurance aspects in consideration. Ecclestone said that a decision on the March 13th event will be made on Tuesday. Although it’s a packed schedule this year and spaces are hard to find – especially for a fly-away race from a logistical point of view – the common sense approach would be postponement with a review of the political situation at a later date in the season. If
Mark Webber became the first prominent F1 player to say that the race should not go ahead on March 13 and that Bahrain should be given time to sort out some fundamental issues. “When you hear of people losing their lives, this is a tragedy,” he said. “It’s probably not the best time to go there for a sporting event. They have bigger things, bigger priorities.” I think that reflects the view of many who work in the sport.
Don’t forget you can follow all the tweets from the teams, drivers and journalists covering the test in real time before, during and after the testing on http://twitter.jamesallenonf1.com. It gives a much more rounded picture of what’s going on than live text commentary written by a single source.
BARCELONA TEST, Day 3
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.168s 92 laps
2. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m23.463s + 0.295s 93 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m23.858s + 0.690s 93 laps
4. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m24.815s + 1.647s 60 laps
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m24.995s + 1.827s 139 laps
6. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m25.454s + 2.286s 48 laps
7. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m25.557s + 2.389s 115 laps
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m25.720s + 2.552s 102 laps
9. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m26.155s + 2.987s 31 laps
10. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m26.508s + 3.340s 123 laps
11. Timo Glock Virgin 1m26.598s + 3.430s 97 laps
12. Giorgio Mondini Hispania 1m28.178s + 5.010s 39 laps
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m28.329s + 5.161s 42 laps
14. Narain Karthikeyan Hispania 1m30.722s + 7.554s 32 laps