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Perez on top for McLaren after second day of testing at Barcelona

By Berthold Bouman

Perez on top for McLaren after second day of testing at Barcelona - Photo: McLarenSergio Perez set the fastest time for McLaren today at the circuit de Catalunya in Spain during the second day of testing at the Barcelona circuit. The Mexican recorded a time of 1m21.848 today, eight-tenths faster than the quickest time yesterday recorded by Nico Rosberg.

Second, but not without problems as he caused a red flag today, was Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull RB9, he was 0.349s slower than Perez. “We had some issues with reliability today and we couldn’t do as many laps as we wanted, but I think it’s better that this kind of thing happens today rather than in Australia,” the triple World Champion said.

Technical problems for Vettel today - Photo: Infinity

Technical problems for Vettel and Red Bull today – Photo: Infinity

He didn’t reveal much about the problems he encountered, “It was nothing disastrous, just small things that hampered us today. We stopped the car once as we saw a small loss of pressure. The second stop towards the end of the day caused a red flag and it simply took too much time to turn everything around, so we couldn’t get out again.”

Kimi Raikkonen was again at the front with the Lotus E21, yesterday he was second, today he was third, but like Vettel, not without problems. The E21 had a gearbox problem and the team decided to replace it. “Fortunately, once we were able to get a lap in we could see that the car has good pace. We test to find any problems so in that respect we’re doing a good job, but it’s frustrating. It’s no secret that we want to get more laps on the board and that’s the target for the rest of this test and the final sessions next week,” said Raikkonen.

It was Lewis Hamilton’s turn at the wheel of the Mercedes today, and the 2008 World Champion took fourth place with a lap of 1m22.726 after completing 121 laps. A productive day and Hamilton said, “We’re making continual steps forward in terms of our understanding of the set-up and the tyres. The hard compound work in particular was pretty good today, although all of tyres are showing degradation so looking after them isn’t easy.”

Fernando Alonso fifth quickest today - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso fifth quickest today – Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso was still keen to try the Ferrari F138, he scored the fifth fastest time after completing 76 laps. He did experience an exhaust problem, that prevented him from getting through all the day’s planned programme.

Today it was Valtteri Bottas’ turn to test the Williams FW35, he was sixth, 1.713s off the pace set by Perez. “I had a really strong first impression of the FW35 today. Once we completed the aero work this morning I was able to complete my first proper run to feel the FW35 and the improvements we have made,” Bottas said.

He’s confident the FW35 is a strong contender this season, “Straight out of the box I knew we had made a step forward from last year, and I am looking forward to working to develop the car even further. It’s great to know we have a really good base to start from but there are still a number of areas we can improve, so I’m really excited for the season ahead.”

Daniel Ricciardo was in the Toro Rosso for the second day this week, and he claimed seventh place for Red Bull’s Italian sister team.

Paul di Resta was eighth and with 62 laps completed today he said, “We stopped a little bit early today, but we still got plenty of running under our belt and we’re learning more and more about the car as we go along — that’s what winter testing is all about.”

Again, it was all about tyres today and di Resta remarked, “Understanding the tyres is always a priority and we’re getting a feel for the degradation rates, which have been quite high, although we have to remember that the track temperatures here are lower than we can expect at most races. Learning about the tyres and a new car at the same time is never easy, but we’re pretty pleased with how things have gone during the first couple of days.”

Ninth place for Nico Hulkenberg today - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Ninth place for Nico Hulkenberg today – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sauber also experienced technical issues today, but were able to carry out the major part of their testing schedule. Nico Hulkenberg reported, “We got a lot done, but also had some issues today. I did quite a lot of running, but it was difficult because the tyres degraded quite quickly. In addition, it was not easy for us today to use the full potential of the tyres on a single quick lap.” And he added, “There is definitely room for improvement.”

Max Chilton completed 67 laps today, and was the second driver to cause a red flag, as he stopped his car during the closing stages of the afternoon session.

Charles Pic in the Caterham was 11th and last, but he was happy with the result, “After losing some time on day one it was important to get as many kilometres done as possible and completing 102 laps gives us a lot of data to work through and will help us progress over the next two days of this test, and to prepare for next week.”

And he added, “With every lap I’m getting more comfortable in the car and with the whole team. There are a few areas for us to look at to extract more performance, but this week hasn’t been about times, it’s been focused on working through various setup options and understanding the tyres which are going to be as important this year as they were in 2012.”

Barcelona testing Day 2 – February 20

 Pos  Driver             Team            Time       Gap       Laps
  1.  Sergio Perez       McLaren         1m21.848              97  
  2.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull        1m22.197   + 0.349    84  
  3.  Kimi Raikkonen     Lotus           1m22.697   + 0.849    43  
  4.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes        1m22.726   + 0.878   121 
  5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari         1m23.247   + 1.399    76  
  6.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams        1m23.561   + 1.713    98  
  7.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso      1m23.718   + 1.870    70  
  8.  Paul di Resta      Force India     1m23.971   + 2.123    62  
  9.  Nico Hulkenberg    Sauber          1m24.205   + 2.357    88  
 10.  Max Chilton        Marussia        1m25.115   + 3.267    67  
 11.  Charles Pic        Caterham        1m26.243   + 4.395   102

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