Vettel sets the pace on first day of Barcelona F1 testing

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday 21 February 2012.
Sebastian Vettel in action in the Red Bull Racing RB8 at Circuit de Catalunya

Feb.21 (PVM) Double world champion Sebastian Vettel topped the timing sheets at the end of the first day collective Formula 1 testing at Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday.

Sebastian Vettel in the Barcelona pits
Sebastian Vettel in the Barcelona pits

At the wheel of the Adrian Newey penned Red Bull RB8, Vettel did 79 laps and posted a best time of 1 minute 23.265 seconds around the Spanish Grand Prix venue.

The world champion set his time late in the day on a set of Pirelli hard tyres, after also topping the timing screens in the morning session – a time set on the soft tyre.


Next up, 0.175 seconds down on the top time, was fellow German Nico Hulkenberg who ended the day just shy of 100 laps and quickest of the Mercedes powered brigade in the Force India VJM05. He had been quickest for most of the morning, before Vettel topped his time before lunch.

Unlike Vettel few drivers improved their times in the afternoon session, which was substantially warmer and arguably not ideal to target fast laps. Most drivers opted for longer runs during the second half of the day.

Third quickest was Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren MP4-27, the 2008 world champion was sampling the various Pirelli options on offer and appeared focused on long runs during the course of the day. He tallied up 114 laps, second most on the day.

Nico Hulkenberg second quickest
Nico Hulkenberg second quickest

Once again very much at the sharp end of the times was Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso STR7 which is proving to be a handy piece of kit straight out the box. Fourth fastest at the end of the day, he was also the last of the four drivers to break into the 63 seconds zone around the Catalan circuit.

Behind the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso was Maranello’s finest, Fernando Alonso on duty in the F2012 concentrating on medium length runs at a pretty handy pace. With 75 laps on the board he ended the day fifth fastest.

After taking the wraps off the Mercedes AMG W03 earlier in the morning, seven times world champion Michael Schumacher was first in the cockpit, racking up 51 hassle free laps in the new Silver Arrow.

The only other driver within one second of Vettel’s best was Sergio Perez in the Sauber C31 with 66 laps to his credit and the seventh best time of the day which was 0.954 seconds down on the top time. The team experienced some technical niggles that affected their programme negatively.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Bruno Senna’s programme was used to maximise the Brazilian’s track time in the Williams FW34, and accomplishing the task  with 97 laps on his board and the eighth best time.

With less than a dozen laps into the day, Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham CT01 suffered a rear track rod failure which curtailed their programme. The Finn eventually got going to complete 31 laps and set the ninth best time.

Lotus were the biggest ‘losers’ on the day as Romain Grosjean only completed 7 laps before parking the Lotus E20-02 with an issue which the Frenchman explained: “I was very quickly aware that the car wasn’t responding as it should.”

The team are flying in the the car used in Jerez to good effect, the E20-01, for the remaining days of the test in Spain, with Kimi Raikkonen due to takeover from Grosjean on Thursday.

Last on the timing sheets but with the most laps to his credit was rookie Charles Pic at the wheel of last year’s Marussia MVR02. Although six seconds off the pace he will be glad to have notched up 121 laps experience in an F1 car, albeit last year’s model.

Barcelona Testing Day 1 Results – Tuesday, 21 February 2012

1VettelRed Bull RB81.23.26579
2HulkenbergForce India VJM051.23.440+0.17597
3HamiltonMcLaren MP4-271.23.590+0.325114
4RicciardoToro Rosso STR071.23.618+0.35376
5AlonsoFerrari F20121.24.100+0.83575
6SchumacherMercedes AMG W031.24.150+0.88551
7PerezSauber C311.24.219+0.95466
8SennaWilliams FW341.25.711+2.44697
9KovalainenCaterham CT011.26.035+2.77031
10GrosjeanLotus E201.26.809+3.5547
11PicMarussia MVR021.29.248+5.983121