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Barcelona day four - Massa blazes a trail to the top 21 Feb 2011

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F150th.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Monday, 21 February 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Monday, 21 February 2011 Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Monday, 21 February 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Monday, 21 February 2011 Force India F1 Team lollipop.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Monday, 21 February 2011

Ferrari signed off from the test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya with a flourish on Monday. Felipe Massa’s best lap, a 1m 22.625s, was the fastest time of the four-day session at the Spanish circuit and almost four seconds quicker than the Brazilian’s quickest lap on Sunday.

Massa covered 121 laps as he worked through a comparison of the Pirelli tyres whilst running different fuel loads and car set-ups.

It was a good day for Red Bull too with Mark Webber taking the second spot, ahead of Sebastien Buemi in Toro Rosso’s STR6. Webber covered 69 laps as the team evaluated development components on the RB7.

“Today we got through quite a lot of work in evaluating some development components on the suspension, brakes and aero package,” explained Red Bull’s head of race engineering Ian Morgan. “We got through the whole programme without any difficulties so, all in all, a useful day’s work.

“We set out a pretty ambitious schedule for this test and I’m pleased to say that we managed to get through almost all of it. Obviously, the weather yesterday hampered us a little but even then we got some wet weather running in, which helps us understand the tyres a bit better. Overall, I think we are quite pleased with the progress we’ve made here.”

Buemi covered 90 laps. The Swiss driver completed a mix of short and long runs, evaluating tyres and completing car set-up work.

“Today went well and I am happy with what we achieved,” he said. “We got through the entire programme we had planned and did enough laps to improve our understanding of the various types of Pirelli tyre. The team, at the track and back at the factory worked well to deliver a car reliable enough to do plenty of laps, which is always the most important thing at this point in the year.”

Robert Kubica’s stand-in Nick Heidfeld continued to become acquainted with his new charge for the foreseeable future, clocking the fourth fastest time in Renault's R31. He completed 95 laps.

“In the morning we were not able to do most of our programme because we had an issue with the KERS,” said Heidfeld. “It’s a shame because track time is so limited, but it’s obviously better to have problems during testing before the season starts.

"In the afternoon we started the race simulation, which went reasonably well. We were using different tyre compounds and tried both scrubbed and new sets. We learned a lot by running the car on high fuel and have lots of useful data about the degradation rates. Then, at the end of the day, we returned to the set-up work.”

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took up the fifth slot on the timesheets in the MP4-26. Hamilton covered 107 laps as he worked through a tyre development programme.

“It was very encouraging to log over 100 laps with MP4-26 today - an impressive conclusion to our four days in Barcelona,” explained test team manager Indy Lall. “We’re still working through a very lengthy development programme - today wasn’t about pure performance, it was about conducting a disciplined series of long-runs - but it’s been a positive end to our test here.”

Pastor Maldonado finished in sixth for Williams. Maldonado managed to complete 121 laps despite an early issue with the FW33’s KERS system, which forced the team to disable it for the entirety of the day.

“It has been another productive day but it certainly didn't start out like that!” explained technical director Sam Michael. “We had a problem with the KERS cooling system just before the session opened, so we had to disable KERS for the day. Pastor then spent the morning doing some mapping runs for Cosworth and running some new exhaust components for aero to check temperatures for the last test aero upgrade that is coming - all of that worked okay. In the afternoon we completed a race simulation with no problems.”

Force India’s Adrian Sutil finished in seventh. “A very productive day in general for us,” said Sutil. “We made some good progress with the balance and we've now got a basic set-up that feels smooth and easy to drive. Of course we also put the KERS on the car. It ran reliably and allowed us to complete the full test programme - very promising for this point in testing. It's still early days for the system but we have got ourselves into a good rhythm and can feed this back into the factory to get some more performance for the next test.”

Eighth spot went to Sauber’s 2011 rookie Sergio Perez, who covered 74 laps. “It was another positive day,” said Perez. “I learnt a lot, in particular about the tyres. They kept changing, but now we have the final spec for the beginning of the season, so it was good I was able to run them today to learn how to maximise their potential. We did a lot of work over the two days, so I’m quite happy.”

Virgin’s new signing Jerome D’Ambrosio was ninth. D’Ambrosio carried out set-up runs, pit-stop practice and practice starts before a gearbox problem forced the Belgian back into the garage. The car returned to the track in the afternoon and D’Ambrosio managed to cover 50 laps in total.

“We lost a bit of running today but we have to be happy with what we’ve achieved at this test,” said Virgin team principal John Booth. “It has been extremely productive and the lessons learned will improve our performance significantly in readiness for the first race of the season. What we take away from this test most of all is how far we’ve come as a team in the space of just 12 months.

“This time last year, a problem like the one we encountered today would have brought us to our knees, but it’s a measure of the strength of our operation now that we came back from this setback and got ourselves out on track again in such a short space of time to bank crucial development mileage. We have gathered an enormous amount of information to review and feed back into the development cycle.”

Tenth quickest was Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher, who completed 114 laps in the MGP W02. Schumacher’s programme included aerodynamic evaluations, further race weekend preparation work and set-up development. He also continued his familiarisation with the KERS system.

“We’ve had another busy day, focusing on set-up work and improving our understanding of the car,” said the German. “The reliability was good, which gave us a solid platform to work from, and we made progress in terms of finding set-up directions. On the performance side, this isn’t the package we will start the season with, so we are not drawing too many firm conclusions. Overall it has been a productive test for us in Barcelona as we continue our pre-season preparations.”

Lotus’s Jarno Trulli completed the day’s runners in 11th. Trulli had completed just 18 laps when a car failure caused the Italian to crash at Turn Nine. Despite the early ending to the day, chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was encouraged by progress.

“I still think there are a great deal of positives to take from the test in terms of the pace of the car and the fact that we are on top of the reliability issues,” Gascoyne said. “With that in mind we leave here with work to do but still on target for where we want to be.”

The final pre-season test is now expected to be held in Barcelona from March 8-11. It had originally been scheduled to take place in Bahrain from March 3-6.

Unofficial Monday test times from Barcelona:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.625, 121 laps
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.442, 69
3. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:23.550, 90
4. Nick Heidfeld, Renault, 1:23.657, 95
5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:24.003, 107
6. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:24.057, 121
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:24.177, 64
8. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:24.515, 74
9. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Virgin, 1:26.501, 50
10. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:27.079, 114
11. Jarno Trulli, Lotus, 1:29.992, 18

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