Barcelona Day 8: Mercedes updates put Schumacher on top

Mercedes' updates put Schumacher on top

Mercedes' updates put Schumacher on top

A raft of upgrades to the Mercedes Wo2 has gone exactly according to plan for the team, with Michael Schumacher leaping to the top of the testing timesheets, after struggling all week.

Nico Rosberg, who took over from Schumacher in the afternoon, was 3rd, ending a hugely successful day for the Brackley team.

A 1.21.249 qualifying simulation was 0.3 seconds faster than Fernando Alonso in 2nd, who did more than double the laps than Schumacher, but never looked like taking the lead.

Rosberg only did 22 laps, but still managed to get within 2 tenths of Alonso.

Renault suffered more reliability problems, with Nick Heidfeld stuck in the garage in the afternoon, but still managed 4th. Rubens Barrichello seemed unaffected by the huge tyre degradation that every team has had, as the Brazilian stuck with the same set of tyres for considerable time, losing only 1 second in lap times every 12 laps.

Kamui Kobayashi and Jaime Alguersuari were 6th and 7th, with Sebastian Vettel 8th. The world champion had a very low-key test today, not setting a qualifying-style lap like previous days. He also stopped out on track with one minute to go.

A series of updates put Lotus up to 9th, with Heikki Kovalainen at the wheel. He completed 137 laps, and was only 2.1 seconds off the pace of the leaders.

Force India split their running between Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, who were 10th and 11th respectively.

An engine change each for Pastor Maldonado and Jenson Button left both cars in the pits for most of the afternoon, with the Williams managing only 11 laps. Jerome D’Ambrosio was again miles off the pace, 6.1 seconds behind Schumacher.

Despite struggling in previous days, Michael is happy with the progress made on the car. Today he said:

"We have been developing the car step by step. The main issue we had here at the test 
was trying to find the right balance, and optimising the car performance.

It has worked pretty well, so we are looking forward to going to Australia to be in 
a reasonably strong position. I am not sure everyone has opened their cards completely 
yet but that is something to be seen in Australia.

All I can say that we have seen today here that our package seems to work reasonably 
well, but has everyone shown their true potential? That is something that we will 
find out in Australia."

Times from Barcelona Day 8:

Pos  Driver              Team                  Time       Gap     Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1.21.249           67
 2.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1.21.614   0.365   141
 3.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1.21.788   0.539   22
 4.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault               1.22.073   0.824   67
 5.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1.22.233   0.984   89
 6.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1.22.315   1.066   98
 7.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.22.675   1.426   72
 8.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1.22.933   1.684   64
 9.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1.23.437   2.188   138
10.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1.23.653   2.404   42
11.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1.23.921   2.672   26
12.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth     1.24.108   2.859   11
13.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1.25.837   4.588   57
14.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1.27.375   6.126   46
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