MARCH 9, 2011
Vettel picks up where Webber left off
Red Bull Racing underlined its strong testing form to date when Sebastian Vettel (1:21.865) set the fastest time of the second day of this week's Barcelona test.
"It was a good day and a good time although it's difficult to say where we are, as the lap times of the teams are all over the place," the world champion said. "We've done a lot of laps again today, which is good. We have had no major problems with reliability throughout testing. The speed looks good as far as we can judge but I think we have to wait until after Melbourne - maybe in Malaysia or China - to really see where we are."
"It was good to have the race team here yesterday and today, to go through pit stop practices," added head of race engineering Ian Morgan. "Normally, we would do that once in pre-season testing but, as we lost a little time with the weather at the last test, this extra test was a good opportunity to get some more practice in ahead of Melbourne."
Second quickest, once again showing strong speed was the new Toro Rosso STR6 in the hands of Sebastian Buemi (1:22.396), who completed more laps than any other driver. "We can be pleased with what we achieved today," the Swiss driver said, "with 120 laps it meant we completed the programme. Apart from the race simulation I was also able to do a qualifying simulation. We showed a reasonable performance level and we must wait to see if we can make even more progress over the next two days with Jaime (Alguersuari) driving."
Vitaly Petrov (1:22.670) was again among the pace-setters with the new Renault. The team improved its understanding of the forces acting on the tyres by running instrumented wheels in the morning and then Petrov concentrated on a race simulation in the afternoon. "It's the first time I've been able to do consistent long runs and really start understanding the tyres," the Russian explained.
Lewis Hamilton (1:22.888) was fourth quickest with the McLaren MP4-26 but lost time in the morning with a hydraulic leak and then an exhaust failure scuppered a planned race simulation just before lunch.
Ferrari tried a new exhaust and some aero mods and while Felipe Massa's 1:23.324s headline time was nothing spectacular, the Brazilian's long run pace was very strong.
Paul di Resta (1:24.334) did a race weekend simulation for Force India, beginning with qualifying runs in the morning and moving onto a full race simulation in the afternoon, complete with live pit stops. He ran a total of 118 laps.
"I've done pit stops before in practice last year," di Resta explained, "but trying them in race conditions was a new experience. They were similar in length to what I've experienced in the DTM over the past four years so I think I dealt with them OK!"
Kamui Kobayashi (1:24.436) was just a tenth slower in the Sauber, well over a second clear of Nico Rosberg (1:25.807) in the Mercedes MGP02. Mercedes ran the first items of its upgrade package, including a new exhaust solution and revised bodywork. The morning was spent conducting baseline runs with the new components. The afternoon session focused on set-up and tyre management over longer runs. "We had glimpses which showed that the full package should be a big step," Rosberg said.
Jarno Trulli (1:26.090) concentrated on long runs looking at tyre degradation and set-up options for Team Lotus, while Pastor Maldonado (1:26.989) managed just 29 laps in the Williams FW33 as the team lost time with a KERS problem, later running with it disconnected. Jerome D'Ambrosio (1:28.982) also had a truncated programme due to an electrical issue.