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