Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing (Barcelona, March 8th)

Circuit de Catalunya.

Mark Webber grabbed the headlines following a dreary opening day of the final Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona.

The Red Bull driver topped the sheets after a day that saw him complete 97 laps – the most of the day, it would turn out.
Running in the RB7, the Australian suffered no problems while running a series of short and long runs in the secondary chassis.
Webber’s best lap of 1:22.544 was enough to beat McLaren’s Jenson Button to the head of the time sheets by some 0.366, with much focus being on a new front-wing design for the MP4-26.

With Ferrari absent (they do not run until today), it gave Renault’s Vitaly Petrov an opportunity garner 3rd place in the R31, while the ill Nick Heidfeld secured 5th. Neither Renault driver completed that many laps with Petrov running 27 tours of the Catalunya circuit and Heidfeld notching up 20 circulations, before handing over to his Russian teammate. The team plans to get into their stride tomorrow with their new aero package consisting of a new floor and rear wing.
The Renault pair sandwiched Sauber’s Sergio Perez in 4th. The Swiss squad brought a redefined aero package to Barcelona; however a hydraulic problem limited running after the lunch break.

Force India also ran two drivers as reserve pilot Nico Hulkenberg and race driver Paul di Resta to the morning and afternoon sessions respectively. It was an important test for Hulkenberg as he tried KERS and the movable rear wing for the first time, while di Resta made his KERS début as well. The Scot eventually finished the day 6th in the standings after his 38 lap day, with Hulkenberg assuming 9th from 31 tours.

Lotus continued the two-driver fashion as they ran their GP2 driver pairing, Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia. Valsecchi’s opportunity in the T128 came in the morning, where his 50 lap sequence would see him take 7th, despite a light off prior to lunch. Razia suffered from a more disturbed afternoon run, losing over ninety minutes due to a mechanical problem.
Sebastien Buemi also lost a huge chunk of time. A component on the STR6 failed, damaging the Toro Rosso, leaving the Swiss driver on the sidelines until after lunch. He would register 8th place on the standings by the evening close.
With Timo Glock recovering from an appendectomy, Jerome d’Ambrosio was assigned to pilot the MVR-02 this week; however yesterday saw the Belgian commit to pit stop practice and various system checks.
The test continues today.

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault      1m22.544s           97
 2.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m22.910s  + 0.366  74
 3.  Vitaly Petrov      Renault               1m22.937s  + 0.393  27
 4.  Sergio Perez       Sauber-Ferrari        1m24.117s  + 1.573  90
 5.  Nick Heidfeld      Renault               1m24.735s  + 2.191  20
 6.  Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes  1m25.039s  + 2.495  38
 7.  Davide Valsecchi   Lotus-Renault         1m25.406s  + 2.862  50
 8.  Sebastien Buemi    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m26.004s  + 3.460  48
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m26.030s  + 3.486  31
10.  Luiz Razia         Lotus-Renault         1m26.723s  + 4.179  29
11.  Jerome D'Ambrosio  Virgin-Cosworth       1m32.060s  + 9.516  57

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