Not only did reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel take over the RB7 from teammate Mark Webber yesterday, the 23-year-old also assumed the quickest lap in testing.
Vettel set an impressive 112 laps in his Red Bull machine, setting a fastest lap of 1:21.865 amidst a number of short runs; however the team were cautious to project over confidence regarding their pace.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi fell just over half-a-second shy of Vettel. The Swiss driver was the busiest of the day, completing 120 tours of Circuit de Catalunya, as the team progressed with race simulations as well as qualifying runs.
After showing quite well on the opening day of this test on Tuesday, Vitaly Petrov placed his Renault R31 car 3rd on the standings in day that saw the Russian clock up 116 laps. Like Vettel and Buemi, Petrov had no problems, as he spent the day working on set-up variations for the rear suspension.
Lewis Hamilton’s wasn’t a free-flowing though. The McLaren pilot suffered a stuttered day due to a hydraulics leak and later, an exhaust failure. Although the 2008 World Champion only ran 57 laps, Hamilton appeared happier with the recent front wing updates for the MP4-26.
Next up was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The Brazilian registered 101 laps on his way to 5th on the timing sheets, with a best of 1:23.324; although fans of the Scuderia will surely hope the team are closer to Red Bull come the opening weekend.
Paul di Resta had a busy day at the wheel of his VJM-04. The Scot ran qualifying simulations in the morning, before switching to race stints after lunch.
Di Resta’s best was 2.47 seconds off of Vettel’s pace – only one-tenth quicker than Sauber man Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese driver spent his day evaluating various updates; however found adapting the C30 to changes in balance occasionally difficult.
Mercedes ran updated bodywork parts as well as a new exhaust yesterday, with Nico Rosberg concentrating on short stints, with a best of 1:25.807.
Rosberg’s best gave him a 0.3 advantage of Lotus’ Jarno Trulli. The Italian set 98 laps as the team ran through a programme consisting of set-up evaluations – stints in the T128 remained short throughout the day.
Unlike Lotus, Williams suffered from a somewhat difficult day. A KERS failure halted running for Pastor Maldonado very early on, although the team did eventually do 29 laps – minus the KERS unit – during the afternoon.
Jerome d’Ambrosio also had his day shortened. The Belgian completed 64 laps at the wheel of his MVR-02, before an electrical problem stopped progress.
Hispania will be joining the test tomorrow with their new F111.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m21.865s 112 2. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.396s + 0.531s 120 3. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.670s + 0.805s 116 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.888s + 1.023s 57 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.324s + 1.459s 101 6. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.334s + 2.469s 118 7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.436s + 2.571s 107 8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.807s + 3.942s 100 9. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m26.090s + 4.225s 98 10. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m26.989s + 5.124s 29 11. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m28.982s + 7.117s 64