Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Vettel fastest on first Barcelona day as Lotus withdraw

Sebastian Vettel sets the pace on the first day of testing at Barcelona.

World Champion Sebastian Vettel set the pace on the first day of the Barcelona test session. Vettel looked in very good shape today, as he drove 79 laps. The other main story from testing though was that Lotus are withdrawing from the four day test. Romain Grosjean completed just seven laps before pulling into the pits, with no return to the track.

Vettel was fastest today
Vettel drove an impressive 79 laps of the track he took victory at in the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix, with a best time of 1.23.265. Vettel was high up on the timesheets early in the morning before slipping back down again. However, the German got back with it and ended the day fastest. Nico Hulkenberg was second for Force India, with his 97 laps giving a time just 0.175 seconds shy of Vettel’s. Lewis Hamilton was third for McLaren, not far off Sebastian Vettel’s time, with Vettel stating he was impressed with the McLaren’s pace on longer runs. The German stated that he didn’t know what to make of Ferrari yet, describing them as "a bit of a secret - nobody knows whether they are really good or really bad". Fernando Alonso was fifth today for Ferrari, just behind Daniel Ricciardo, whose fourth fastest time continued Toro Rosso’s impressive testing form. However, Ricciardo stopped on track with an hour left, which brought out a red flag. Alonso was eight tenths of a second behind Vettel’s fastest time. Ferrari were quick to emphasise in the first test that times were not important, even though Alonso was fastest for them on the final day. In sixth was Michael Schumacher, who drove the Mercedes W03 for the first time at a public test. The W03 was launched this morning, after the team used their 2011 car at the Jerez test. Schumacher was eight tenths shy of Vettel, and completed a relatively low 51 laps.

Perez had a good day for Sauber
Sergio Perez was seventh for Sauber, with the Mexican having a good day behind the wheel of the C31. Bruno Senna drove 97 laps for Williams and ended the day eighth. Heikki Kovalainen brought out the red flags early in the day when he spun his Caterham around. The team blamed it on rear suspension problems, and the Finn was in the garage for some time before finally returning to the track to end the day ninth. Charles Pic had his first running in an official F1 test, as he drove the 2011 Marussia, and was the slowest of the day’s runners. Romain Grosjean completed just seven laps for Lotus, before the team announced it wouldn’t be running in the remaining three days of the test. The team blamed chassis problems for its sudden end to running in the morning, before deciding to abandon the final three days. Team Principal Eric Boullier said “Not running this week has been a tough decision to take, but we feel that our choice is the right one. On the positive side, we have quickly identified the issue with the chassis and our design office has already devised a solution. We will be present at next week’s test in Barcelona. We draw faith from the fact that the E20 was quick out of the box in Jerez and showed its reliability there. We have a lot of work ahead of us over the next week but everyone at Enstone is ready for this challenge.”

Day One's times in full:

Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull
Nico Hulkenberg
Force India
Lewis Hamilton
Daniel Ricciardo
Toro Rosso
Fernando Alonso
Michael Schumacher
Sergio Perez
Bruno Senna
Heikki Kovalainen
Romain Grosjean
Charles Pic
*2011 Car
Keep with my blog for all the opinions, launches and testing updates throughout the winter, as we count down to the Australian Grand Prix.

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