Today was the third day of the test at Barcelona; with just two more days of running before the new season starts and the testing ban kicks in the pressure is mounting for teams to find set-ups, incorporate new updates and get their cars sorted.
Track temperatures of over 30 were welcomed by Pirelli and the teams today. Meanwhile rain forecast for Saturday will not help the teams much, although it will be useful to Pirelli in learning more about the intermediate and wet tyres.
“This was the first time for Sergio to go through all those procedures from Q1 to Q3,” said Sauber technical director James Key. “He did a good and controlled set of laps, setting a time of 1:22.042 minutes on soft tyres and 1:21.761 on the super soft compound.”
Perez was also quick on the soft tyre, only a couple of tenths slower. Ironically Perez had set a lap on Tuesday in the 1m21s, but it was achieved by cutting the chicane and so was deleted by official timing! Today there was no mistake and it’s a quick time, even if it was a full low fuel qualifying simulation.
Today saw Ferrari again notching up a high mileage, 132 laps in total; Massa had done 100 laps by 3pm. So far this winter almost every day of testing has resulted in over 100 laps, with very few exceptions. He set the second fastest time of the day with a 1m 22.092 on a quali run, but it’s doubtful that the fuel load was comparable, judging from the relative pace we’ve seen from the Sauber and Ferrari in the tests to date.
The Ferrari long run times again look comparable with the Red Bull’s. It was Massa’s last day of testing before the season starts.
For Mercedes, Michael Schumacher’s time of 1m22.892 was set while he was doing a series of short runs, but he did a couple of ten lap runs with very consistent lap times, in the 1m26s and 1m27s, which will have encouraged Mercedes’ engineers. The teams are working hard to make the tyres last a little longer each time they test. Reports suggest that two stops would still be tricky at Barcelona – Massa did four today in a race simulation – but by the time F1 goes back there in a couple of months it might be possible.
Vitaly Petrov was again at the wheel of the Renault. He had a KERS problem in the morning. A similar problem spoiled the race distance run of Perez in the Sauber. It’s interesting that there have been quite a few reliability niggles with KERS for teams this week, as they get more use.
Meanwhile Toro Rosso claim to have carried out over 60 live pit stops in the last two days!
For Lotus, Jarno Trulli drove just six laps in the morning, with a gearbox problem and then a water leak Heikki Kovalainen taking over in the afternoon and he will drive again tomorrow. Lotus hasn’t got a great deal of updates to test this week, there is a new front wing for tomorrow.
McLaren did not run today. They chose to split their four days across the five of the test by taking a day off track in the middle. Yesterday the car was troubled by hydraulic and exhaust issues.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh told the official F1 site, F1.com today that, despite (and perhaps also because of) the reliability issues, the decision to start testing the new car late has proved the right one as the tyre data gathered on the old car was beneficial,
“That first test proved extremely beneficial in providing us with rich, raw tyre data that we’ve been analyzing ever since,” he said. “So, while I admit that the introduction of the MP4-26 has been affected by a few reliability issues, we still stand by our decision to defer its introduction by one test.”
McLaren scheduled the day off in order to allow delivery time for the final update kit to be tested Friday and Saturday. Every hour on track counts for McLaren at the moment.
Meanwhile Felipe Massa has spoken about the meeting the FIA’s Charlie Whiting last night, “We spoke about the tyres and other new rules for this year, such as the moveable rear wing,” he said on Ferrari.com. “More or less all of us drivers are agreed that there is a need to improve the rain tyres so that they give more grip: if we were to have another race like the one last year in Korea, it would be tough to get to the finish.”
They also spoke about the use of the adjustable rear wing, with some drivers concerned at indiscriminate use in corners during practice and qualifying potentially leading to accidents.
BARCELONA TEST, Day 3
1. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m21.761s 95 laps
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m22.092s + 0.331s 132 laps
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m22.466s + 0.705s 97 laps
4. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m22.637s + 0.876s 105
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.892s + 1.131s 89 laps
6. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m23.541s + 1.780s 32 laps
7. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m23.990s + 2.229s 40 laps
8. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m24.233s + 2.472s 24 laps
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m24.334s + 2.573s 108 laps
10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m24.779s + 3.018s 107 laps
11. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m27.336s + 5.575s 96 laps
12. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m34.485s + 12.724s 6 laps