Sebastian Vettel went quickest on the first day of testing at Barcelona Sebastian Vettel has snatched top spot on the opening day of testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, posting the fastest lap time in the dying minutes of play.

And with the paddock’s attention also cast to the current events in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso and Jaime Alguersuari completed the top-three placings in front of their home fans.

With heavy ran having battered the circuit on Thursday, the drivers and teams were greeted with damp track conditions under a clearing sky, presenting them with a useful two hours of wet-weather running before the surface dried completely.

Damp conditions were the order of the morning's running Jenson Button circulated the track fastest in the greasy conditions before the track surface dried and warmed to 25°C (77°C).

Alguersuari then moved to the top of the timesheets, followed by Rubens Barrichello (Williams) and Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin Racing).

Times were well-spread up and down the pit lane, rendering this a particularly difficult day to gauge any meaningful form – which was further compounded by a lack of running for some runners due to mechanical issues.

Paul di Resta was one such driver to lose plenty of track time, with the unfortunate Scot Paul di Resta lost plenty of mileage with a technical issue in his Force Indianot able to get any laps in his Force India until 3:30pm, due to an (as yet) undisclosed mechanical issue.

Kamui Kobayashi suffered from a KERS problem, during the day, forcing the Sauber team to run without it. Rubens Barrichello sat out most of the afternoon while his team made a precautionary engine change.

Renault sat last on the timesheets due to a software glitch for its drivers.

By the afternoon’s play Alonso now headed the reckoning, until Vettel took his Red Bull RB7 around the Circuit de Catalunya a full second quicker than the Ferrari driver in the final 15 minutes of the day’s running.

It would seem that the German’s lap-time came with the assistance of the softer-compound Pirelli tyres, for his pace dropped by about 1-2 seconds for the remainder of that final stint.

Finishing third and fourth were Alguersuari and Kobayashi, who both posted decent times on shorter runs as well as causing a red flag during the day: Kobayashi ran dry to simulate an ‘out of fuel’ incident, while Alguersuari took a trip into the Turn 4 kitty litter.

Eighth-fastest Michael Schumacher used his afternoon to complete a full race simulation in his Mercedes GP, running a Grand Prix distance punctuated by scheduled pit stops – his pace in the 1m29s to 1m30s range before tailing off by 2-3 seconds at Michael Schumacher ran a race simulation in the Mercedes GPthe end of each stint, which usually lasted around 15 laps.

Completing the highest mileage of the day were Narain Karthikeyan and Jérôme d’Ambrosio, who tallied up over 115 laps apiece en route to ninth and eleventh-fastest respectively. Splitting them was Heikki Kovalainen, who lost time with a water leak.


Barcelona Pre-Season Test (Day 1) Lap Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 1:24.374 37
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150th Italia + 1.111 101
3. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 1.264 57
4. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 1.267 78
5. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 1.991 77
6. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.201 26
7. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 2.538 52
8. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 3.138 90
9. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRT Cosworth F110* + 4.019 116
10. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 5.691 54
11. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 6.576 116
12. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 10.800 20
13. Nick Heidfeld DEU Renault R31 + 19.950 27

* Denotes interim-spec or 2010 model

[Original images via GP Update, LAT and Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.