Nico Hulkenberg in the Williams topped the time sheets in today’s testing in Barcelona. Unlike yesterday, when nearly a second separated the first and second best times, today Hulkenberg edged out second quickest Fernando Alonso by a mere 0.023 seconds.
Moreover, the top half of the time sheets was more tightly clustered than yesterday. The three quickest cars were in the 1:20’s and the next four cars were in the 1:21’s.
As usual, the times didn’t tell us much, as the teams seemed to be running an assortment of different programs, some on light fuel loads, and others on full tanks. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, who were only seventh and eighth quickest, respectively, both concentrated on long runs, simulating race stints. Schumacher also spent much of the day testing new aero updates, rather than trying to whittle down his times in qualifying trim.
Fernando Alonso also tested a number of new aero attachments on his Ferrari, including a new dorsal fin. He also devoted part of his day simulating qualifying runs, and looked as though he might end up quickest, before Hulkenberg pipped him towards the end of the day.
Hulkenberg ran a heavy fuel program in the morning, but made some shorter sprint runs in the afternoon, which is evident in his final times. The young rookie acknowledged that the times were meaningless relative to what the other times were doing. Nevertheless, he also indicated that the team was able to gather valuable data about the car’s ultimate speed. As reported in Autosport, Hulkenberg said, “P1 today is nice but means nothing, to be honest. We’re not in Bahrain yet! It’s positive for the team, and for me, to know what the car can do, though.”
Sebastian Vettel bettered team mate Mark Webber’s best time of yesterday, but his day was cut short by mechanical glitches.
In all, it’s difficult to judge just where the teams’ pecking order might be at this point, although many observers are beginning to predict that, of the putative Big Four (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren), it will be Red Bull and Ferrari that are quickest out of the box in Bahrain.
And while Nico Rosberg has predicted a big jump forward at the season opener, when Mercedes will introduce their new diffuser for the first time, Michael Schumacher has said that he doesn’t believe the Silver Arrows is ready just yet to challenge for wins.
|1||Nico Hulkenberg||Williams FW32||1:20.614||99|
|2||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F10||1:20.637||134|
|3||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber C29||1:20.973||114|
|4||Tonio Liuzzi||Force India VJM03||1:21.056||90|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull RB6||1:21.258||125|
|6||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso STR5||1:21.571||104|
|7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W01||1:21.689||85|
|8||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren MP4-25||1:22.152||93|
|9||Robert Kubica||Renault R30||1:24.912||53|
|10||Jarno Trulli||Lotus T127||1:25.524||70|
|11||Timo Glock||Virgin VR-01||1:25.942||52|