Webber flies in first Barcelona test

Mark Webber produced the star performance on the opening day of this week's pre-season test at Barcelona on Thursday with the fastest lap overall - and strong long-run times to boot

Webber flies in first Barcelona test

The Red Bull Racing driver set his best lap of 1m21.487s during the morning session, when he focused exclusively on short blasts of a few laps that went some way to showing the potential of his RB6 on low fuel.

His best effort, set shortly before 12.30pm, was not matched by any other driver - and in fact he had a further seven laps that would have been good enough for him to head the timesheets.

In the afternoon, Webber completed a long 26-lap run, which showed encouraging consistent improvement throughout the stint, before his car stopped on track and brought out a red flag.

Despite that hiccup, the fact that Webber ended the day just less than one second faster than his nearest rival - on an aerodynamic track that plays to the strengths of his car - will have been a big boost to the team that has seen early testing with its car disrupted by poor weather.

Webber's nearest challenger was Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, whose best effort of 1m22.407s came right near the end of the day as he reeled off a sequence of qualifying simulations in the FW32.

That performance edged him ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes GP W01, who had spent most of his day working through long run simulations - apart from a brief flurry of short stints before the lunch break.

Rosberg appeared to be trying a race simulation in the afternoon, getting through 24 laps before a stop for new tyres. However, shortly after he resumed his car came to a stop at Turn 10 - bringing out one of the day's many red flags.

Pedro de la Rosa continued BMW Sauber's steady progress in testing to set the fourth best time of the day, putting in his best effort of 1m23.144s late on.

Jenson Button was another driver saving his best until the end, with his best lap of one minute 23.452s coming on the 11th lap of a 14 lap run that came to a end when his car stopped just before Turn 10 - to bring out a red flag that resulted in the day's proceedings being brought to a halt a few minutes before its scheduled cut off point.

Vitantonio Liuzzi made steady progress in the Force India, which also included him working on pit-stop scenarios with his team, to set the sixth best time, while Fernando Alonso ended the day seventh overall in the Ferrari.

It was a far from perfect day for Alonso, whose F10 stopped on track shortly before 10.25am with a suspected electronic problem, and he did not re-emerge until just before the lunch break. He was only able to complete 22 laps during the morning session.

In the afternoon, Alonso got his lap tally up to 74 as he focused on long runs - never bothering with the low fuel stints that would have moved him up the timesheets.

Behind Vitaly Petrov and Jaime Alguersuari, there was more frustration for Virgin Racing, which saw Lucas di Grassi hit the barriers at Turn 9 after spinning off the track shortly before the lunch break.

The rear of the VR-01 took the brunt of the impact, and the team was unable to get the damage repaired due to a lack of spare parts. The team hopes to be able to continue testing on Friday when new parts are flown out.

"We are continuing to debug the car hydraulics and making good progress in our understanding of the issue," said technical director Nick Wirth.

"Unfortunately when we were running some experimental control settings on the car, which were adversely affecting its handling, this caught Lucas out on the entry to turn nine resulting in a spin and contact with the barrier.

"We're going to need to spend the time before tomorrow replacing some broken suspension and wings. We should be back on track tomorrow morning when we hope to really start building up our mileage."

Fairuz Fauzy ended his first proper day of testing in the Lotus at the bottom of the timesheets - just less than one second adrift of di Grassi's best time.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:21.487 109 2. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:22.407 81 3. Rosberg Mercedes GP (B) 1:22.514 107 4. de la Rosa BMW-Sauber (B) 1:23.144 73 5. Button McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:23.452 100 6. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:24.064 64 7. Alonso Ferrari (B) 1:24.170 74 8. Petrov Renault (B) 1:24.173 73 9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.869 111 10. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth (B) 1:27.057 31 11. Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth (B) 1:28.002 76 All Timing Unofficial 
shares
comments
Haug downplays Red Bull's times

Previous article

Haug downplays Red Bull's times

Next article

Rosberg expects big step from Mercedes

Rosberg expects big step from Mercedes
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
How F1’s street track return can offer Verstappen redemption Plus

How F1’s street track return can offer Verstappen redemption

Red Bull has failed to capitalise on having the best car in the opening rounds. BEN EDWARDS thinks change is around the corner

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Plus

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Formula 1
May 17, 2021
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021