Monthly Archives: March 2011

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 3

This is the final part of a 3-post series looking at each individual team before they head off to Melbourne in little over a week’s time.

Sauber

Perez and Kobayashi looks like an impressive line-up

Perez and Kobayashi looks like an impressive line-up

With good testing form and a formidable line-up, Sauber are certainly a team to watch out for in 2011.

Critics slate the driver line-up as inexperienced, but Peter Sauber’s last young driver pairing was Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld in 2011, which earned them 4th in the constructors championship.

This year’s pairing of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez may not have the same effect, but they are both forces to be reckoned with. Perez, a former winner of British Formula 3, seeks to stake his claim in Formula 1. Kobayashi strikes fear into those in front of him with his trademark breathtaking overtaking.

The arrival of James Kay last year came at around the same time Sauber turned their year around. This year, the C30 is not radical or innovative technically, but with a Ferrari KERS system, the car could be battling high in the midfield.

Such a young driver line-up is risky to some, but I don’t think that it will affect the team in any negative way.

Toro Rosso

Both Buemi and Alguersuari will be under pressure in the STR6

Both Buemi and Alguersuari will be under pressure in the STR6

Despite having retained both Alguersuari and Buemi for another year, the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo as test driver will keep both Toro Rosso drivers on their toes all year.

Both Alguersuari’s and Buemi’s contracts allow them to be pushed aside for Ricciardo at the half-way mark, so any underachieving will be heavily punished. However, the promising form of the STR6 should propel the team forward regardless of drivers this year.

The double floor and upswept sidepods, created by Giorgio Ascanelli, are both clever innvoations, but it is unclear where Toro Rosso stand after testing. The general consensus though is that the team are in a much better position than last year, having been the worst-ranked out of the points-scoring teams.

As previously stated, both drivers will have to up their game, but the pressure is more on Sebastien Buemi. Having been at the team for two years, he failed to show his impressive form from from 2009 into 2010, and completely lost out to Alguersuari by the end of last year. It could be a terrible shame to see him replaced, as his first race back in Australia 2009 was extremely promising.

No matter which drivers survive the year with the team, improvements are essential.

Lotus

The Lotus T128 is a huge improvement from its predecessor

The Lotus T128 is a huge improvement from its predecessor

Considerably the best of the new teams last year, Lotus seek to leap into the midfield with radical improvements over the winter.

Leaving aside the “Lotus vs Lotus” legal battle, everything is looking up for Lotus at the moment, as the T128 is already showing signs of huge improvements.

Heikki Kovalainen has said that the 2011 machine “feels like a proper Formula 1 car”. The gearbox and hydraulic issues that plagued the team last year have been solved by ditching Xtrac for Red Bull. Even with those difficulties in 2010, they were the most reliable out of the 3 teams, so this is another big step forward.

A pull-rod suspension system has been implemented, the same sort that has been used on the Red Bull for years. A blade roll-hoop and split air intake, unpopular but possibly promising choices, have also been used on the T128.

A Renault engine will give them a boost in fuel efficiency, but more than likely a drop in reliability, considering Cosworth’s good performance last year.

With all of these changes since 2010, it is a considerable achievement that a 18-month-old team could consider challenging for points. It seems well within reason for them to do this, so 2011 could be a fantastic improvement for Lotus.

HRT

HRT won't turn a wheel until Melbourne

HRT won't turn a wheel until Melbourne

Hispania Racing, just starting their 2nd Formula 1 season, still have the shockingly awful record of not running at a single test session in their history.

There are reasons, of course, why the team couldn’t attend the Barcelona test, but it is still a PR disaster for a team looking for sponsors to not be able to turn a wheel until the season opener. Where have we heard that line before…

I don’t mean to appear biased, but there is little good to speak of Hispania so far this year. The livery is an exceptional improvement from the horrid F110, but the F111 displays only one sponsor, and this is not good news for a financially struggling team.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, however, may be able to show some good form. Having been dropped by Force India, he now needs to prove that he can still race at the top level. Beating Narain Karthikeyan will obviously be his main target. Karthikeyan, who last raced in F1 for Jordan in 2005, has been competing in A1 GP and Superleague Formula since.

It’s not a bad line-up, but Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok were both promising drivers last year. Regardless, HRT’s aim will probably be to just keep up with their rivals.

With more time than 2010 to develop their car, the F111 should probably be an improvement, but we won’t know until Melbourne.

Virgin

An all-CFD approach may not pay off for Virgin

An all-CFD approach may not pay off for Virgin

Once again, Nick Wirth has led an all-CFD approach to the Virgin Racing MVR-02, and it appears to bring the same disadvantages as last year.

A lack of underfloor aero simulation has left the Virgin car underdeveloped again this year. The last car to never see a wind tunnel was the epic disaster of the 1997 MasterCard Lola team, which survived one race – 13 seconds off the pace. In qualifying, seeing as they never made the race.

Timo Glock is pessimistic, saying that he doubts they will reach the midfield, meaning the team may have to dice it out with HRT again in 2011.

Testing highlighted their woes. Many wasted days were spent miles off the pace, with Jerome D’Ambrosio bearing the brunt of not being able to set a single fast time over several days.

With Timo Glock recovering after surgery, the team have suffered by not having any experienced hands develop the car, and it will probably show in Melbourne.

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3-post series, looking at each individual team with less than 2 weeks to go until Melbourne. So without further delay here are the next 4 teams:

Mercedes

Mercedes may well leap to the front in 2011

Mercedes may well leap to the front in 2011

After the fairytale double championship success of 2009, last year was a huge shock to the Brackley outfit. With only a handful of podiums courtesy of Rosberg, and Schumacher’s performances lacklustre at times, 2011 is a crucial year for the silver arrows.

Despite struggling in the first few test sessions, a large upgrade package has launched Mercedes back to the top of the testing timesheets. Although we aren’t exactly sure how the W02 is shaping up just yet, it seems as if the team has minimized the damage from the loss of the double diffuser and F-duct.

With Schumacher happier than last year with the slick tyres, things are looking up. Nico Rosberg appears to be very happy with the performance of the car, so race wins can’t be ruled out for either driver in 2011.

Renault

There's a lot more to the R31 than a shiny new livery

There's a lot more to the R31 than a shiny new livery

Despite the ongoing battle with Lotus over naming rights stealing the headlines (for all the wrong reasons), Renault may have made huge progress over the winter behind the scenes.

The front exhaust-blown diffuser looks like a stroke of genius, and rumours hint that there are more technical secrets hidden inside the R31. However, the temporary loss of Robert Kubica has shot down some of the high expectations they may have had. Despite Nick Heidfeld taking his seat, there are very few drivers in the world who could replace Kubica.

Vitaly Petrov is still learning, and podium finishes may be too much to ask. Heidfeld is fantastically consistent, but this means that the team will lose out in terms of raw performance.

Despite a radically designed car, Renault may still lose out, though by no fault of their own.

Williams

A radical rear end design may help or hinder Williams

A radical rear end design may help or hinder Williams

At first glances, Williams’ Fw33 doesn’t seem to be particularly exciting, having shied away in the midfield for most of testing. However, a closer look at the car will hint that the team have quietly produced a very interesting car.

With some difficulty, they have created their smallest-ever gearbox, which is crucial to having a tight rear end layout on the car, which benefits both aerodynamically and mechanically.

A low differential, combined with high-angle rear axles, have manipulated the rear wing to squeeze more downforce out of the car. Unfortunately, their coveted flywheel KERS will still not be run yet, the team opting to run a conventional battery system – for the moment.

The loss of several important sponsors has hurt the team financially, and perhaps this is what prompted them to drop Hulkenberg for sponsor-laden Maldonado. The PDVSA logos (Pastor’s sponsor) all over the FW33 demonstrates this.

Reliability appears to be a huge problem at the moment, but their raw pace has yet to be discovered.

Force India

Force India may struggle to improve

Force India may struggle to improve

The end of 2010 was very disappointing for Force India, considering the way they started the year battling near the frontrunners. 2011 has seen the field raise their game, and after losing two senior team personnel, the team may find this year just as difficult.

Both James Key and Mark Smith have left to join rival teams, leaving the technical department under-resourced. The blade roll-hoop design is risky, but apart from this there doesn’t seem to be huge leaps in design compared to the VJM03.

On the other hand, the arrival of Paul di Resta (who has beaten Sebastian Vettel in lower racing categories) should bring some extra pace. A Mercedes KERS system, by far the best of the pack in 2009, is also a huge boost.

However, I feel that this is not enough for Force India to even retain their ground. Their car has failed to impress many in testing, and the midfield will probably be the only battleground for the team in 2011.

The final post, part 3, will be up tomorrow.

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 1

After the conclusion of testing in Barcelona, we now have only 12 days until the start of the 2011 F1 season in Melbourne. The cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix has given us more time to examine the new fleet of cars, and the season outlook varies drastically for some compared to others.

This is part 1 of a 3-part preview for the 2011 season.

Red Bull

Red Bull go into 2011 as firm favourites

Red Bull go into 2011 as firm favourites

Despite clashes between their drivers, reliability issues, and the odd spot of bad luck, Red Bull still deserved to take the title last year.

They move into the 2011 season with improvements to make, but with aerodynamics guru Adrian Newey on board, the RB7 looks as revolutionary as ever. Without the double diffuser, the Red Bull has lost a certain amount of rear grip, but most believe that it is a smaller loss compared to other teams.

In testing they have shown good pace throughout, and with less relaibility worries than expected. Most personnel are confident, with Mark Webber stating a week ago that the team were “ready to go” to Australia.

Tactical expertise shown last year should also help, with the new 2, 3 or even 4-stop races shaking up the formbook for the leading teams.

With world champion Vettel looking to continue his form, and Webber looking to put one over his team-mate, Red Bull are without a doubt the team to beat.

McLaren

Just like with their 2009 car, McLaren may well struggle this year

Just like with their 2009 car, McLaren may well struggle this year

All is not well in McLaren, and a brief look at the testing timesheets tells the story.

Having completed the least miles out of all the 2011 cars (excluding HRT), McLaren were already on the back foot. That, combined with reliability woes, and much less knowledge about their car compared to their rivals, the MP4-26 may well be another disaster for the team.

It’s happening unusually often for such a professional team. 2009, 2006 and 2004 saw the team enter the season with disastrously off-the-pace cars. A substansial re-design saved face in 2004 and 2009, but their radical designs do not seem to work as often as many would have hoped.

Having said that, several aspects may work to their advantage, particularly KERS. The McLaren unit was by far the most efficient of the 2009 season, and it should be the same in 2011.

Despite this, 2011 may well be another year of playing catch-up.

Ferrari

Ferrari look likely to rival Red Bull

Ferrari look likely to rival Red Bull

Just like in 2008, Ferrari suffered a last-gasp loss at the season finale, with Fernando Alonso losing out to Vettel and Red Bull in Abu Dhabi. This year, testing form indicates that the Scuderia are on course to be battling with Vettel and Webber at the front once again.

A technical reshuffle over the winter has revitalised the team, as well as the additions of Pat Fry and Neil Marting, both from rival teams.

Fernando Alonso is clearly the team’s lead driver at the moment, commanding the team with a presence not seen since the glory days of Michael Schumacher. Stunning victories such as his one in Singapore prove he is on top form. Felipe Massa suffered a torrid 2010, being shunted out of a win by his own team, and losing momentum after that. This year, he hopes that the Pirelli tyres suit his driving style better.

A huge asset to the team has been the ridiculous amount of mileage they have completed so far this year. With over 6,000km in testing, Ferrari have already completed more than an entire season’s worth of laps. This, as well as bulletproof reliability, will bolster the team as they look to win their first championship trophy in 3 years.

Part 2 will be up soon.

Barcelona Day 9: Heavy rain leaves Rosberg on top

Rosberg led a soaked final test session

Rosberg led a soaked final test session

The final day of 2011 testing closed rather unspectacularly, with very heavy rain limiting running all day. A slight improvement in conditions in the afternoon left Nico Rosberg on top.

The morning saw the track completely washed out. Extreme wet tyre testing would have been useless, so all 6 remaining teams (Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams, Mercedes, and Hispania stuck in the garage with no suspension parts) were waiting in the garage until just before the lunch break.

Fernando Alonso didn’t set a fast time, making 5 exploration laps in the afternoon, and the team packed up and left before the end of the session.

Michael Schumacher similarly only set 5 laps, but team-mate Rosberg set 35, getting lucky with the slightly improved conditions late in the session. His time of 1.43.814 was half a second faster than Pastor Maldonado. Lewis Hamilton was 2 tenths off in 3rd.

Despite getting little valuable data today, Rosberg was still happy with Mercedes’ progress:

"Definitely the team has made a lot of progress, so it has been great to see how much 
progress has come on," said Rosberg at the conclusion of testing on Saturday.

Of course we are not there yet, as we want to win the world championship and we are 
not the fastest car yet, but things are going in the right direction so that is really 
nice to see.

The theory says that it is going to be 0.4 seconds quicker, you put it on, generally 
there are very few issues with them and they are 0.4 seconds quicker. So that is nice 
to see."

Times from Barcelona Day 9:

Pos  Driver              Team               Time       Gap     Laps
 1.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes           1.43.814           35
 2.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth  1.44.333   0.519   23
 3.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1.44.560   0.746   33
 4.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes                              5
 5.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari                               5

No testing for HRT?

HRT now face the prospect of not running their 2011 car until Melbourne

HRT now face the prospect of not running their 2011 car until Melbourne

After unveiling their 2011 car in the pitlane in Barcelona today, Hispania were set to begin testing in the afternoon. However, after crucial parts being sent over were held by customs, the team are now faced with the prospect of beginning the season with absolutely no testing.

Of course, the team has been in this situation before. Last year, their F110 hadn’t turned a wheel before Friday Practice 2 in Bahrain. Today should have seen the team attend their first test session, but the dampers for the suspension are currently being held by customs, with no possibility of them arriving for tomorrow.

Team principal Colin Kolles has said:

"Unfortunately we could not get the dampers out of customs. The result of this is 
that we can't run tomorrow. This is life and we will overcome this problem."

The consolation for the team is that they have slight experience of the new Pirelli tyres, as both Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan have driven the F110 with 2011-spec tyres.

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

Barcelona Day 7: Perez fastest in his final day

Perez led his last test before handing over the Sauber car

Perez led his last test before handing over the Sauber car

Sergio Perez set the fastest lap in testing in Barcelona today – his last day of testing before Melbourne.

Due to hand over the Sauber to Kamui Kobayashi for the next 2 days, Perez made his mark by setting a 1.21.761, the fastest this year at the Circuit de Catalunya.

An impressive 132 laps secured second place for Felipe Massa, 3 tenths behind Perez. After completing 6,100km in testing so far, Ferrari have now covered more distance in testing than they will over the 20 races this season.

Mark Webber was 0.7 seconds off in 3rd, but still held up well to the Ferrari all day long. Despite removing their KERS device, two more stoppages hampered Rubens Barrichello, but he still managed 4th position.

Spending most of the day doing heavy-fuel runs, one single qualifying simulation put Michael Schumacher up to 5th. Nick Heidfeld had control of the Renault in the afternoon, and was 6th. Heikki Kovalainen shared his Lotus with Jarno Trulli, and was 7th.

Vitaly Petrov drove only in the morning, managing only 24 laps. Adrian Sutil and Jaime Alguersuari focused on longer runs, and were 9th and 10th respectively.

Jerome D’Ambrorio suffered another stoppage out on track, and was 5.5 seconds off the pace. Jarno Trulli had a disastrous day, managing only 6 laps after a gearbox change and a water leak.

Times from Barcelona Day 7:

Pos  Driver              Team                  Time       Gap     Laps
 1.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1.21.761           95
 2.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1.22.092   0.331   132
 3.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1.22.466   0.705   97
 4.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1.22.637   0.876   105
 5.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1.22.892   1.131   89
 6.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault               1.23.541   1.780   32
 7.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1.23.990   2.229   40
 8.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               1.24.233   2.472   24
 9.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1.24.334   2.573   108
10.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.24.779   3.018   107
11.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1.27.336   5.575   96
12.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault         1.34.485   12.724  6

Barcelona Day 6: Vettel keeps Red Bull on top

Vettel kept Red Bull on top

Vettel kept Red Bull on top

Red Bull continued to lead the testing at Barcelona today, as Sebastian Vettel led the rest of the field.

A time of 1.21.865 was the quickest yet of testing this year, and the world champion was half a second ahead of Sebastien Buemi, who completed an impressive 120 laps today, despite causing a red flag and stopping for several pit stop practice sessions.

Vitaly Petrov was another to cause a red flag. Still replacing the ill Nick Heidfeld, a 4-lap run ensured him 3rd place. It was a very difficult day for McLaren, as two exhaust failures and a hydraulic leak delayed Lewis Hamilton, although a single one-lap run got him up to 4th.

A new exhaust system was being tested by Massa in the Ferrari, and his longer run pace suggested he was keeping up well with the Red Bulls. However his short-fuel runs were less impressive, leaving him 5th.

Another red flag was caused by a fuel pressure problem for Paul di Resta, who was 6th, leading Kamui Kobayashi. Bodywork and exhaust changes did not improve Mercedes’ pace, as Nico Rosberg was down in 8th, and 3.9 seconds off the pace.

Jarno Trulli put his Lotus in 9th place. KERS issues severely hampered Williams’ day, limiting Pastor Maldonado to 29 laps all day. He only managed to get out of the garage after disconnecting the KERS unit. Jerome D’Ambrosio was again well off the pace, and headed up the back of the field.

Times from Barcelona Day 6:

Pos  Driver             Team                  Time       Gap    Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1.21.865          112
 2.  Sebastien Buemi    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.22.396   0.531  120
 3.  Vitaly Petrov      Renault               1.22.670   0.805  116
 4.  Lewis Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1.22.888   1.023  57
 5.  Felipe Massa       Ferrari               1.23.324   1.459  101
 6.  Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes  1.24.334   2.469  118
 7.  Kamui Kobayashi    Sauber-Ferrari        1.24.436   2.571  107
 8.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1.25.807   3.942  100
 9.  Jarno Trulli       Lotus-Renault         1.26.090   4.225  98
10.  Pastor Maldonado   Williams-Cosworth     1.26.989   5.124  29
11.  Jerome D'Ambrosio  Virgin-Cosworth       1.28.982   7.117  64

Liuzzi confirmed at Hispania for 2011

Liuzzi is the last of the 24 drivers to be announced for 2011

Liuzzi is the last of the 24 drivers to be announced for 2011

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been announced as Hispania Racing’s second driver for the 2011 season.

He is the final driver to take his place on the grid, and he will race alongside Narain Karthikeyan this year.

Christian Klien was also in the running for the final slot, but Liuzzi was confirmed by the team today. Team principal Colin Kolles stated:

"Tonio is a very professional driver who will bring a lot of benefits to the team.

I have known Tonio for many years as he raced with me in lower categories.

I am convinced about his skills to develop a car and his speed. He has shown this in 
the past having contributed to a large extend developing and moving a back grid car 
to the front. I had the pleasure of working with him and I am very happy and proud 
to have him racing with Hispania Racing.”

Vitantonio lost his race seat at Force India early this year, despite having a contract to race with them this year. He has said that he had “never lost hope” fighting to stay in F1:

“I am really happy to have signed this agreement with Hispania Racing.

I never lost hope to be in Formula One as I knew I have the experience and the 
right attributes for a young and ambitious team. I face a new challenge now and 
this excites me.

I also face a lot of hard work in guiding Hispania Racing through the development 
of our new car. I am extremely grateful to José Ramon Carabante and to Colin 
Kolles for giving me such an opportunity.”

In a separate announcement, HRT have stated that they will present their 2011 car and drivers on Friday afternoon in Barcelona.

Barcelona Day 5: Webber hints at Red Bull’s potential

Mark Webber led Day 5

Mark Webber led Day 5

Mark Webber headed the fifth day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, after Sergio Perez’s fastest lap was deleted for cutting a chicane.

Webber’s best lap came in the morning during a qualifying simulation, when the track was still damp. At that point, he was up to two seconds faster than anyone else on track.

A strange addition to Button's McLaren

A strange addition to Button's McLaren

Jenson Button ran with a strange addition to the nosecone, and was 0.3 seconds behind the Red Bull. His day was spoilt by being forced to abandon a race simulation, losing him up to 50 laps.

Vitaly Petrov took over from an unwell Nick Heidfeld, who had a cold. Petrov was 3rd, several hundreths behind Button. Perez was in the top 5 all day long, and ended up 4th. With a few minutes to go, a shock time of 1.21.176 propelled him to the top, 1.4 seconds faster than Webber. However, the live timing revealed he had gained two full seconds in the final sector by cutting a chicane, and the lap was removed.

Nick Heidfeld was 5th, after dropping out after 20 laps. Paul di Resta was 6th for Force India, while Lotus tested Davide Valsecchi. He managed 50 laps, and was 2.8 seconds off the fastest time, although he spun into the gravel in the afternoon.

Sebastien Buemi was 8th, and Nico Hulkenberg 9th. Luiz Razia shared the Lotus car with Valsecchi, but was 6.5 seconds off the pace.

Jerome D’Ambrosio did not set a competitive lap time, but set 57 laps and was in and out of the pits all day long.

Times from Barcelona Day 5:

Pos  Driver             Team                  Time       Gap    Laps
 1.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault      1.22.544          97
 2.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1.22.910   0.366  74
 3.  Vitaly Petrov      Renault               1.22.937   0.393  27
 4.  Sergio Perez       Sauber-Ferrari        1.24.117   1.573  90
 5.  Nick Heidfeld      Renault               1.24.735   2.191  20
 6.  Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes  1.25.039   2.495  38
 7.  Davide Valsecchi   Lotus-Renault         1.25.406   2.862  50
 8.  Sebastien Buemi    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.26.004   3.460  48
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1.26.030   3.486  31
10.  Luiz Razia         Lotus-Renault         1.26.723   4.179  29
11.  Jerome D'Ambrosio  Virgin-Cosworth       1.32.060   9.516  57
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