On the second day of the final F1 test at Barcelona Sebastian Vettel went for a time, setting the benchmark in the high 1m 21s, some way clear of his opposition. Up to this point Red Bull have played their cards pretty close to their chest in terms of outright pace. Now the others have something to aim for.
Vettel set the time early in the day and then worked on the car on different fuel loads and set-ups. Vettel got back into the 1m 21s on other runs during the day.
Michael Schumacher always used to test this way – go out and set a flat out time at the start and then use that as a benchmark for lap times set on set fuel load, evaluating set up changes as you go. It’s a way of working he got into when he was at Benetton with Pat Symonds and Frank Dernie.
Ferrari was out with it’s updated car, the details of which I posted yesterday. They feature new ultra low exhausts. Felipe Massa was at the wheel, but did not feel tempted to see what his car might manage in similar configuration to Vettel’s. That may or may not come by the end of the week.
Toro Rosso did a race distance today and set the second fastest time with a lap in the low 1m 22s, half a second off Vettel and similar to Red Bull’s time from yesterday. The Toro Rosso certainly has some pace and has made significant improvement since last season.
McLaren had more reliability issues, another hydraulic problem and an exhaust failure among them. He did not manage a race distance run but did set the fourth fastest time in the high 1m 22s, similar to Button’s pace yesterday.
Afterwards Lewis Hamilton told reporters that McLaren has a lot of work to do ” ‘Do I believe I have a car to win the world championship at the moment? I don’t, no,’ ” he said.
“But that doesn’t mean it won’t become a world championship-winning car. In terms of how long we can go in terms of reliability and our true pace, that’s an unknown factor for us because in the time we have had we’ve not been able to maximise things.”
Today the team announced that Perdo de la Rosa, has rejoined them as test driver, a role he had for many years before returning briefly to a race seat with Sauber last year. De la Rosa is valued for his engineering ability by team principal Martin Whitmarsh in particular.
Mercedes ran their new exhaust package and new bodywork, the results from which were “in line with expectations” according to the team, “I think we have some impressive developments, “said Nico Rosberg, “Even though we couldn’t test or show the full performance today as not all of the elements are on the car and working together yet. We had glimpses that showed that the full package should be a big step.” Team principal Ross Brawn indicated last week that the car had been around a second a lap off the pace in the early tests.
Williams also had a poor day’s running after a KERS fault in the morning, which required extensive repairs. Meanwhile Paul di Resta simulated a race weekend for Force India, with qualifying laps in the morning session and a full race distance in the afternoon, punctuated with proper full speed pit stops. Di Resta is making his debut in Australia in two weeks.
Tonight the drivers are meeting with the FIA’s Charlie Whiting to talk through the adjustable rear wings, give him their learnings so far and discuss safety. There have been concerns voiced about the safety of the devices, especially on wet days, with Rubens Barrichello arguing over the winter that there could be a case for disabling the device when the track is wet, to avoid sudden changes of downforce level on a slippery track.
BARCELONA TEST, Day 2
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m21.865s 112 laps
2. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m22.396s + 0.531s 120 laps
3. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.670s + 0.805s 116 laps
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m22.888s + 1.023s 57 laps
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.324s + 1.459s 101 laps
6. Paul di Resta Force India 1m24.334s + 2.469s 118 laps
7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m24.436s + 2.571s 107 laps
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.807s + 3.942s 100 laps
9. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m26.090s + 4.225s 98 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m26.989s + 5.124s 29 laps
11. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m28.982s + 7.117s 64 laps