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Webber Quickest on Day One in Barcelona

Mark Webber in the Red Bull RB6

Mark Webber set the pace in the opening day of testing at Barcelona today, in the Red Bull RB6.  The Aussie set several quickest laps, with a best time of 1:21.487.  He was nearly a full second clear of the number two driver, Nico Hulkenberg, in the Williams, and the only driver to record a lap in the 1:21’s.

Nico Rosberg, in the Mercedes, was third quickest, barely a tenth slower than Hulkenberg.  The Mercedes has been ending up in the middle of the pack on most of the pre-season time sheets thus far, but it’s widely expected that in Barcelona most of the teams will take the gloves off, and focus on running laps in qualifying trim for at least a portion of the sessions there.

Webber’s quickest laps were completed on short fuel runs of only a few laps apiece.  He later focused on longer runs, setting a number of lap times in the 1:27’s, a clear indication of the time differential attributable to fuel loads.

There were several red flags during the morning and afternoon sessions, as various teams experienced mechanical or electronic glitches.  Fairuz Fauzy’s Lotus, Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, Webber’s Red Bull, Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Jenson Button’s McLaren all, at one time or another, stopped on the track, bringing out the red.

Teams also spent a good deal of time practicing pit stops today.  With this year’s refueling ban, there will be less margin for error in pit stops.  Refueling is the most time-consuming element of a pit-stop, which gave the tire-changers a bit of extra time in case they fumbled.  But now, pit stops will be made only for tires, which generally should be changed within about three seconds (refueling doubled or tripled that time).  This means that every fraction second is crucial, and pit crews will be knocking themselves out to shave their pit times down to the absolute minimum.

Testing will resume tomorrow, with Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jarno Trulli taking over from Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Fairuz Fauzy, respectively.

Image by slitzferrari, licensed through Creative Commons.

Pos. Driver Car Best Time Laps
1 Mark Webber Red Bull RB6 1:21.487 109
2 Nico Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1:22.407 81
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes W01 1:22.514 107
4 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber C29 1:23.144 73
5 Jenson Button McLaren MP4-25 1:23.452 100
6 Tonio Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1:24.064 64
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari F10 1:24.170 74
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault R30 1:24.173 73
9 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR5 1:24.869 111
10 Lucas di Grassi Virgin VR-01 1:27.057 31
11 Fairuz Fauzy Lotus T127 1:28.002 76
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