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Webber on top for Red Bull after first day of Barcelona testing

By Berthold Bouman

Webber on top for Red Bull after first day of Barcelona testing - Photo: Red Bull RacingMark Webber topped the time sheets on the opening day of the last pre-season test days at Barcelona, Spain, today. Not a great day for testing as rain showers hit the Barcelona track during the morning and drivers were forced to go out on the full wet and intermediate Pirellis.

The Red Bull driver set a time of 1m22.693, he set his time on a set of the soft Pirellis when the track conditions improved late in the afternoon. About the bad weather he said, “It was pretty heavy, I must say. There was a big tailwind down to Turn 1. And in other sections it was pretty dusty. The level of wind wasn’t trivial but to be honest it was tricky enough anyway because of the greasy conditions on the track. We only got one hour at the end of the day in more stable conditions.”

But he also reckons Red Bull still has a lot of development work to do, “We’ve still got work to do… We are seeing some very fast times from the other cars. There are some very strong teams out there. We’re not on our own — that is for sure!”

Webber fastest today in Barcelona - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber fastest today in Barcelona – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Second was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, he was 1.655s slower than the Australian, after completing 113 laps or some 526 km. “The track started out really wet this morning but thankfully the conditions dried out later on and we were able to complete some proper running,” said the 2008 World Champion. “It felt good to work through the race simulation this afternoon; both to get myself back in practice and to put valuable miles on the car.”

Toro Rosso was fast again as Jean-Eric Vergne was third, albeit 2.324s slower than pace setter Webber. Like most drivers, Vergne wasn’t happy with the weather conditions today, ”We had many things to test and the rain meant we were not able to get that much done, but we have to remember that the other teams have similar programmes and the rain affects everyone. Nevertheless, I did plenty of laps, which is good for me and good for the new car to do a high mileage.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Valtteri Bottas completed 85 laps in the new Williams and was fourth with a time of 1m26.458. Williams had a good day and the new FW35 ran almost flawlessly. “It’s a shame we were disrupted a bit by the wet weather, although this did allow us to run on the wet, intermediate and dry tyres,” Bottas said.

And he added, “I clocked up a lot of mileage for myself and was able to get more experience driving in difficult conditions. It was cold, wet and windy all day, and particularly slippery on track this morning.”

Sergio Perez completed 100 laps for McLaren, he had a slow start in the morning and did some aero mapping, in the afternoon McLaren opted to focus on a ‘stable set-up on the Intermediate tyre’.

Only three red flags today, Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber went off at Turn 3 just before lunch, he ended up with the nose of the Sauber in the barrier, but not much damage was done, and the Mexican driver completed 92 laps today. “Unfortunately the weather changed constantly. It was important for us to work with the intermediate tyres, which seem to be the most difficult ones for us. We had to change quite a lot of things to make them work better,” he reported.

Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta, who only today learned who his 2013 team mate is, was seventh in the Force India VJM06. He too tested the wet Pirellis and said, “Quite a disrupted day with the constant rain showers, but it gave me the chance to run in the wet conditions and gain some knowledge of the wet weather tyres. That should mean we’re prepared in case we get a wet race early in the season.”

Felipe Massa was runner-up when it comes to the number of laps completed today; he completed 112 laps in the Ferrari F138. Massa caused the third red flag as his Ferrari came to a halt on track after a full race simulation.

Max Chilton still does all the testing for Marussia, rumours say his team mate Luiz Razia has problems getting the money together he was promised by his sponsors and the Marussia team has therefore decided to let Chilton do all the testing. The Briton was ninth today.

Charles Pic on the full wet Pirellis - Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic on the full wet Pirellis – Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic was on testing duty for Caterham, the Frenchman was especially pleased with the reliability of the new car, “Day one of the final test has been ok — 83 laps and another day where we’ve run without any issues and kept the same consistent approach throughout all the tests.”

Caterham’s progress was hampered too by the unfavourable weather conditions today, “ We had planned to do qualifying and race simulations but with the rain today we’ve switched the race simulation to Sunday when I’m back in the car, but we did run through all the qualifying procedures and that went pretty well.”

And on 11th and last place was Romain Grosjean, who caused the first red flag of the day when he spun at Turn 12 and ended up in the gravel. “It was a bit of a frustrating day as we concentrated on aero runs and never went for a time on the drying track surface. The car feels good on both the intermediate and wet tyres and we’ve run through more of our pre-season test programme so those are positives,” said the unlucky Frenchman.

Lotus then decided to assess their new DDRS system in the afternoon, and Grosjean did not set a representative time today.

Barcelona testing Day 1 – February 28

Pos  Driver              Team            Time       Gap        Laps
 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull        1m22.693               90
 2.  Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes        1m24.348   + 1.655    113
 3.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso      1m25.017   + 2.324     59
 4.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams        1m26.458   + 3.765     85
 5.  Sergio Perez        McLaren         1m26.538   + 3.845    100
 6.  Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber          1m26.574   + 3.881     92
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India     1m27.107   + 4.414     57
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari         1m27.541   + 4.848    112
 9.  Max Chilton         Marussia        1m28.166   + 5.473     78
10.  Charles Pic         Caterham        1m28.644   + 5.951     83
11.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus           1m34.928   + 12.235    52

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