Formula One: 2011 Barcelona Test Recap

For the second straight test, the teams were overshadowed by off-track F1 news. This week’s testing played second fiddle to debate over the postponement of the Bahrain Grand Prix because of protests in the country. On-track, however, testing was a battle between Red Bull and Ferrari as last season’s two top teams look set to cement their place at the top of the standings.

Day 1 (February 18)

The first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya was a mixed bag for most teams. The day started with wet running because of overnight rain. This gave teams a chance to try out Pirelli’s wet weather tires. As the track dried out, some times tumbled as different teams worked on different programs. Sebastian Vettel was fastest while working on short runs during the afternoon. Fernando Alonso was 2nd in the Ferrari F150th Italia.

Most teams had some troubles that required extended time in the garage or caused a red flag during the session. Jaime Alguersuari spun into the gravel. Kamui Kobayashi ran out of fuel on track. Force India spent most of the day waiting for new parts for their VM04. Williams had to change the engine in Rubens Barrichello’s FW33. Renault’s two drivers were slowed by a KERS software problem that limited running.

  1. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:24.374
  2. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:25.485
  3. Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:25.638
  4. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:25.641
  5. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:26.365
  6. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:26.575
  7. Rubens Barrichello – Williams-Cosworth – 1:26.912
  8. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes – 1:27.512
  9. Narain Karthikeyan – HRT-Cosworth – 1:28.393
  10. Heikki Kovalainen – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:30.065
  11. Jerome d’Ambrosio – Virgin-Cosworth – 1:30.950
  12. Vitaly Petrov – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:35.174
  13. Nick Heidfeld – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:44.324

Day 2 (February 19)

For the second day running, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull showed that they’re still the team to beat this season. The big surprise of the day was Alguersuari continuing Toro Rosso’s surprising form with a second-place time only two-tenths off Vettel. Despite some electrical and mechanical problems, Fernando Alonso gave the Spanish fans two drivers in the top three with a time about two-thirds of a second off Vettel’s fast lap.

Apart from Ferrari’s problems, only McLaren and Team Lotus lost time due to mechanical problems which made this day’s running the best so far in terms of reliability. Four teams (Red Bull, Williams, Sauber and Mercedes) ran more than 100 laps on the day. As we get closer to the start of the season, teams are changing from testing parts and collecting data to assessing reliability.

  1. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.315
  2. Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:23.519
  3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:23.978
  4. Rubens Barrichello – Williams-Cosworth -1:24.008
  5. Nick Heidfeld – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:24.242
  6. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:24.243
  7. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:24.730
  8. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.923
  9. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.194
  10. Heikki Kovalainen – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:26.421
  11. Vitaly Petrov – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:26.884
  12. Vitantonio Liuzzi – HRT-Cosworth – 1:27.044
  13. Timo Glock – Virgin-Cosworth – 1:27.242
  14. Ricardo Teixeira – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:31.584

Day 3 (February 20)

Another day’s running started with a wet race track. As the day went on, the track dried out and the times dropped. This day’s times were much quicker than the first day of testing which had similar conditions. Thanks to some mock qualifying runs, the time sheets were topped by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. Mock qualifying runs also provided the quick times for 2nd place Vitaly Petrov and 3rd place Lewis Hamilton.

Several teams once again had problems that limited running. Lewis Hamilton, who suggested his team needed to run more laps, had a shortened day because of several runs abandoned due to mechanical problems. Pastor Maldonado’s Williams suffered an alternator failure. And Team Lotus’s winter troubles continued with a water leak limiting their day’s program.

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:23.168
  2. Vitaly Petrov – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:23.463
  3. Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:23.858
  4. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Cosworth – 1:24.815
  5. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:24.995
  6. Jarno Trulli – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:25.454
  7. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:25.557
  8. Adrian Sutil – Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.720
  9. Sebastien Buemi – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:26.155
  10. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:26.508
  11. Timo Glock – Virgin-Cosworth – 1:26.598
  12. Giorgio Mondini – HRT-Cosworth – 1:28.178
  13. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:28.329
  14. Narain Karthikeyan – HRT-Cosworth – 1:30.772

Day 4 (February 21)

Felipe Massa and Ferrari once again proved that they can keep pace with Red Bull by setting the fastest time of the day and test session. Massa’s time in the F-Henry Ford Is A Massive Peach was eight-tenths of a second faster than Webber’s fastest time on the day and Sebastian Vettel’s fast time for Red Bull overall during the test.

KERS was a trouble spot for a couple of teams. Renault Lotus GP and Williams both lost out on running time due to problems with their KERS. The biggest trouble on the day belonged to Jarno Trulli. A parts failure on his Lotus cause him to crash at Campsa and end Team Lotus’s day early.

  1. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:22.625
  2. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.442
  3. Sebastien Buemi – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:23.550
  4. Nick Heidfeld – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:23.657
  5. Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.003
  6. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Cosworth – 1:24.057
  7. Adrian Sutil – Force India-Mercedes – 1:24.177
  8. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:24.515
  9. Jerome D’Ambrosio – Virgin-Cosworth – 1:26.501
  10. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes – 1:27.079
  11. Jarno Trulli – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:29.992

The picture isn’t crystal clear after the third of four pre-season tests but we’re starting to get a better idea of how the teams stack up. Red Bull is the clear favourite but Ferrari doesn’t seem too far behind. After that I would venture an educated guess that the next three are McLaren, Lotus Renault GP and Toro Rosso. The team with the most work to do is clearly Mercedes GP. While Rosberg did set one fast lap on a mock qualifying run, teammate Michael Schumacher’s fastest lap was only good for 23rd on the test. While I don’t think either ranking is representative of their true pace, they definitely won’t come close to their 2009 success this year.

Best Times of the Week

  1. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:22.625
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:23.168
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.315
  4. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.442
  5. Vitaly Petrov – Lotus GP-Renault -1:23.463
  6. Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:23.519
  7. Sebastien Buemi – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:23.550
  8. Nick Heidfeld – Lotus GP-Renault – 1:23.657
  9. Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:23.858
  10. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:23.978
  11. Rubens Barrichello – Williams-Cosworth – 1:24.008
  12. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Cosworth – 1:24.057
  13. Adrian Sutil – Force India-Mercedes – 1:24.177
  14. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:24.243
  15. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:24.515
  16. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.923
  17. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.194
  18. Jarno Trulli – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:25.454
  19. Heikki Kovalainen – Team Lotus-Renault – 1:26.421
  20. Jerome d’Ambrosio – Virgin-Cosworth – 1:26.501
  21. Timo Glock – Virgin-Cosworth – 1:26.598
  22. Vitantonio Liuzzi – HRT-Cosworth – 1:27.044
  23. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes – 1:27.079
  24. Giorgio Mondini – HRT-Cosworth – 1:28.178
  25. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:28.329
  26. Narain Karthikeyan – HRT-Cosworth – 1:28.393
  27. Ricardo Teixeira – Team Lotus  – 1:31.584

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