Red Bull Racing has continued its fine form at the final pre-season test of the 2011 Formula 1 season, with Sebastian Vettel taking his RB7 challenger around the Circuit de Catalunya with the fastest lap time to-date in the ‘winter test championship’.
In the wake of team-mate Mark Webber’s efforts the day before, the defending World Champion quickly moved to the head of the timesheets in the morning’s running, capping it off with a 1:21.865 lap time at the start of a five-lap stint. He would post times in the 1m21s range on subsequent short stints as well.
Toro Rosso also continued its impressive test form, with Sébastien Buemi finishing second-quickest in Red Bull’s sister outfit, while Vitaly Petrov completed the top-three.
No doubt to the delight of tyre supplier Pirelli, the sun was out and track temperatures climbed to a peak of 28°C (82°F) in the afternoon, allowing for more analysis of its 2011 rubber in warmer conditions.
The day was interrupted more more red flags than usual, which played havoc in particular with several teams that had hoped to complete a race simulation in the afternoon. The first suspension came just before 10am local time, when Pastor Maldonado brought his Williams to a halt with fluid pouring out the back of his FW33 – this was later identified as a KERS issue that kept him sidelined for close to six hours.
The second stoppage came less than an hour and a half later, when Paul di Resta stopped his Force India on the start/finish straight. Another hour, and another red flag, this time brought out by Jérôme d’Ambrosio with a stoppage at Turn 6.
But at the sharp end of the timesheets, it was a very productive day for Toro Rosso. Buemi completed a race simulation in the morning before he banged in his best effort in a qualifying-style run out of a total of 120 laps of the Barcelona circuit, the most of any team present. Despite causing a momentary red flag when he stopped on track, he also ran through a series of pit stop drills with his mechanics.
Petrov mirrored the schedule played out by Toro Rosso, with his fastest coming at the start of a four-lap stint before he reverted to longer runs. The Russian caused the day’s final red flag when he spun at Turn 6 in the closing minutes of the day.
Fourth-quickest after a quiet day was Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren, who improved on his eighth-fastest position at lunch as the team continued to evaluate more developmental parts on its radical MP4-26. Their running was interrupted by an hydraulics problem, which forced him to abandon a planned race simulation.
Felipe Massa finished fifth-fastest for Ferrari, which never threatened the top three positions on its first appearance at this test. The team arrived with plenty of new parts on its F150° Italia challenger, including a new exhaust layout and revisions to its rear wing. The Brazilian did not attempt many shorter runs, although his pace on longer stints was often close to that achieved by Vettel.
Two other teams – Mercedes GP and Williams – also made their first respective appearances at this test, and neither was able to make much of an impression on the timesheets, with Nico Rosberg eighth-fastest and Pastor Maldonado tenth-fastest, after he returned to the track minus his KERS unit.
Hispania Racing elected to miss out on this day’s running, although it announced that it had signed Vitantonio Liuzzi as its second driver, along with confirming that its new F111 challenger would debut on Friday.
Final Barcelona Pre-Season Test (Day 2) Lap Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:21.865||112|
|2.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 0.531||120|
|3.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 0.805||116|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.023||57|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.459||101|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.469||118|
|7.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.571||107|
|8.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 3.942||100|
|9.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.225||98|
|10.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 5.124||29|
|11.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 7.117||64|