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.
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.
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 the 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:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:24.374||37|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150th Italia||+ 1.111||101|
|3.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 1.264||57|
|4.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 1.267||78|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.991||77|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.201||26|
|7.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.538||52|
|8.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 3.138||90|
|9.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT Cosworth F110*||+ 4.019||116|
|10.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 5.691||54|
|11.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 6.576||116|
|12.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 10.800||20|
|13.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 19.950||27|
* Denotes interim-spec or 2010 model