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Pre-season testing - the story so far 26 Feb 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 19 February 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138 makes a pit stop.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 22 February 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 makes a pit stop.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 22 February 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03 makes a pit stop.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Fans watch the action.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9 passes the Red Bull Racing pit wall gantry.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013

The new season is almost upon us. In fact, there’s just one more four-day test between now and next month’s season-opening 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. That test begins in Barcelona, Spain on Thursday. As the teams prepare for the final push of on-track development work, we review how they fared during last week’s four-day session at the Circuit de Catalunya - a session that saw McLaren newcomer Sergio Perez top the aggregate timesheet…

McLaren
Sergio Perez, 1st: 1:21.848, 174 laps
Jenson Button, 11th: 1:22.840, 141 laps

Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez again showed no signs of difficulty in adapting to his new team environment, as he gave McLaren the fastest overall time last week in Barcelona. Other than that it was a typically low-key but solid test from the Woking squad, with no major technical problems reported and an air of quiet confidence building around the MP4-28, even if - as Jenson Button admitted - it has been tricky to understand at times.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 2nd: 1:21.875, 283 laps
Felipe Massa, 22nd: 1:27.563, 80 laps

After opting to miss the first Jerez test, Fernando Alonso got his first taste of the F138 in Barcelona, and his lap times - he was fastest on the third of his three days in the car - confirmed that Ferrari are in a far better place than this time last year, even if they admit there is still work to do, notably surrounding the exhausts. Massa’s time - set amid mixed track conditions in his single day at the wheel - was not representative.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, 3rd: 1:22.160, 179 laps
Esteban Gutierrez, 18th: 1:25.124, 129 laps

Some small mechanical niggles aside, Sauber had another productive test last week and Hulkenberg’s third place in the aggregate timesheets suggested the C32, with its much-talked-about narrow sidepods, may just have the pace to match its pretty looks. Rookie Gutierrez struggled with tyre degradation on his only full day of dry running, but nonetheless notched up another 129 laps of valuable, pre-season mileage.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 4th: 1:22.188, 160 laps
Kimi Raikkonen, 7th: 1:22.623, 87 laps

Many are tipping Lotus to be an even greater threat to the ‘big three’ in 2013. They have experienced a few data-logging issues in testing, but other than that their reliability looks strong and they’ve been consistently quick. Grosjean also ran a trouble-free full race simulation in Barcelona. Like many other teams, Lotus plan to bring several updates to the final test which could boost pace further.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 5th: 1:22.197, 150 laps
Mark Webber, 13th: 1:23.024, 172 laps

The F1 press core has learnt from experience never to judge Red Bull based on pre-season testing form, and as usual Christian Horner’s men were giving little away last week. Some small reliability issues early on were quickly ironed out, but even then there was little sign of the team showing their true hand just yet. The only certainty? The RB9 isn’t slow.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 6th: 1:22.611, 162 laps
Lewis Hamilton, 9th: 1:22.726, 173 laps

After their distinctly mixed fortunes at the opening Jerez test, Mercedes’ first Barcelona session was far more promising. Rosberg was visibly upbeat after clocking the fastest time of day one, even if new team Hamilton - the man with experience of a championship-winning car - was somewhat more circumspect after leading the way on the final day. Ross Brawn’s analysis remains that his team have taken a significant step forward since 2012.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 8th: 1:22.675, 178 laps
Valtteri Bottas, 10th: 1:22.826, 189 laps

Williams’ decision to buck the trend and wait until the second test to launch their 2013 machine looked to be a wise one after the FW35 proved trouble-free and fast in the hands of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas. The team could hardly have been happier with their new car’s debut, and with reliability proven they head to the final test able to concentrate on performance.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 12th: 1:22.877, 78 laps
Paul di Resta, 16th: 1:23.971, 144 laps
Jules Bianchi, 19th: 1:25.732, 96 laps

For the media at least, Force India’s first Barcelona session was all about the drivers rather than the car, as the team’s former racer (Sutil) went head to head with their 2012 reserve (Bianchi) in pursuit of their final 2013 race seat. Sutil showed no sign of having been out of an F1 car for almost 15 months, while Bianchi acquitted himself well in some trying and changeable weather conditions. The VJM06 looks in pretty good shape ahead of the final test, but all anyone wants to know is who will be Di Resta’s team mate this season.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 14th: 1:23.366, 186 laps
Daniel Ricciardo, 15th: 1:23.718, 143 laps

Two tests down and Toro Rosso say the STR8 is reliable and shows potential. The only thing that seems clear from the timesheets, however, is that Vergne and Ricciardo are as closely matched as ever and the team at least remain a clear step ahead of backmarkers Caterham and Marussia. As to whether they’ll be mixing it with their traditional midfield rivals or moving further up the grid, only time will tell.

Marussia
Max Chilton, 17th: 1:25.115, 241 laps

Marussia - newly equipped with KERS for 2013 - had the edge over Caterham in Barcelona. It fell to Chilton to complete all the mileage, after recently-confirmed team mate Luiz Razia was dropped from the test line-up, the team citing a need for driver consistency after the stop-start nature of their early running.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde, 20th: 1:26.177, 133 laps
Charles Pic, 21st: 1:26.243, 151 laps

Like all the teams, Caterham insisted they weren’t chasing lap times, but there’s no doubt they would have preferred to see some slightly quicker figures staring back at them from the timing screens. On the plus side, reliability was generally good and new boy Van der Garde acquitted himself well relative to the more experienced Pic.

Unofficial aggregate test times from Barcelona:
1. Sergio Perez, McLaren, 1:21.848, 174 laps
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:21.875, 283 laps
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:22.160, 179 laps
4. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.188, 160 laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.197, 150 laps
6. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:22.611, 162 laps
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:22.623, 87 laps
8. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.675, 178 laps
9. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:22.726, 173 laps
10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.826, 189 laps
11. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:22.840, 141 laps
12. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:22.877, 78 laps
13. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.024, 172 laps
14. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.366, 186 laps
15. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.718, 143 laps
16. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:23.971, 144 laps
17. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:25.115, 241 laps
18. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:25.124, 129 laps
19. Jules Bianchi, Force India, 1:25.732, 96 laps
20. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:26.177, 133 laps
21. Charles Pic, Caterham, 1:26.243, 151 laps
22. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:27.563, 80 laps

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