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Barcelona day one - Vettel sets the pace for Red Bull 21 Feb 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05 in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/27.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia Racing VR-02.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Low light action.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets for Red Bull as this week’s four-day test got underway at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday. Vettel’s best, a 1m 23.265s, was over a tenth of a second faster than the quickest lap from second-placed runner Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India.

The opening day of the second official pre-season session saw 11 teams in action, with only HRT missing. Vettel covered 79 laps in the RB8 despite a longer-than-usual lunch break as the team changed some parts on the car.

“We got through most of what we wanted today,” said Red Bull’s head of race engineering Ian Morgan. “So, while we lost a little time, it wasn’t at the expense of getting the tasks completed. These tests are a process of continuous development and the programme today was influenced a bit by what we learned at the last test.

“The next two days will be somewhat different. We will be doing race simulations and will have the whole race team here, so we will try to mix that with continuing the development. There aren’t many chances to run through a whole race weekend before the season starts and we’ll do a simulation with each driver. Those should keep us on our toes for the next couple of days.”

Hulkenberg completed 97 laps in Force India’s VJM05. His programme included tyre comparison work, aero sweeps and a few long runs. “It was only my second day in the car and I’m still bedding in and getting used to things, but after each run I felt a bit more comfortable,” said the German.

“We started with some aero runs and more data gathering this morning, and then moved to longer runs in the afternoon. The car feels consistent and the drivability is good so I feel positive heading into tomorrow.”

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was third fastest, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso. Hamilton was charged with data collection work over some shorter runs in the morning before completing several longer runs.

“With more than 500km under our belt, this was an extremely productive day,” said team manager David Redding. “The car ran reliably and without problem all day and Lewis was happy with the car. Given the cooler temperatures we experienced today, we’re optimistic that we’re headed in the right direction with our tyre and set-up work for the start of the season.”

Ricciardo covered 76 laps as he evaluated set-up configurations in Toro Rosso's STR7. Although his day ended an hour earlier than expected due to a technical issue, he was pleased with progress.

“It was a good day,” said the Australian. “In the morning, apart from working on the overall development of the car, we were also getting ready for Melbourne, running through various procedures, working to a set time scale, as if it was a race weekend. That went well and in the afternoon, we did some race-type runs which were successful until the car stopped with just the final hour to go.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso occupied the fifth slot after covering 75 laps in the F2012. Alonso continued to carry out development work in the new Ferrari and will test again on Wednesday. Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, was charged with giving the newly-launched F1 W03 its maiden public run and finished sixth in the times. He had completed 51 laps when a hydraulic problem forced him to end the day ahead of schedule.

"My initial feelings with our new car are certainly good,” said the German. “I'm happy with the different evaluations that we have done over the last week, but obviously with the rule changes, we won't know more until later. It's certainly an improvement and we have worked hard on the areas we had defined last year. The aerodynamics figures look good so I'm not worried about the shape of the nose! Even though we had the hydraulic problem today, I'm pleased with all the mileage we have achieved so far with the new car."

Sauber’s Sergio Perez was seventh ahead of Williams’ Bruno Senna. Perez’s day was hampered by some technical issues and he covered 66 laps.

"We obviously didn’t cover the mileage we wanted to today, but such things happen in testing,” said Sauber's head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara. “In the morning we had some doubts related to the structure, which didn’t occur in Jerez and therefore appear to be track related. It is important to discover something like this during testing instead of at a Grand Prix weekend.

“We touched base with our experts in Hinwil for analysis and at the same time found a mechanical solution here at the track. In the afternoon we then had another unforeseen break due to a mechanical issue with a rear anti roll bar. Not actually a big issue, but quite time consuming as the gear box had to be removed again. So now we will concentrate on our test programme for tomorrow and hope for a rather smoother session then.”

Senna completed 97 laps in Williams' FW34. The Brazilian will hand the car over to reserve Valtteri Bottas on Wednesday. “We worked successfully through a detailed aero correlation test programme in the morning before moving on to car set-up optimisation, utilising a range of tyre compounds throughout the afternoon,” explained Williams’ chief operations engineer Mark Gillan.

Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen was also hamstrung by technical difficulties. He finished ninth fastest in the CT01 but only managed 31 laps.

“We had a rear track rod failure on Heikki’s third run this morning which brought him to a halt on track,” explained Caterham’s chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “As soon as we had the car back in the garage we identified the issue and managed to fix it on site, and we have more parts coming out tonight to make sure we don’t have the same problem again. We know that this car is fundamentally reliable, so the aim for the next three days is to complete the plan for this test and put ourselves back on schedule.”

Lotus also had a difficult start to the test with Romain Grosjean only managing a few laps before a problem with the second E20 chassis forced the team to abandon their programme.

“We completed a few aero runs and then started timed runs, but I was very quickly aware that the car wasn’t responding as it should,” explained the Frenchman, ultimately 10th in the times.

Things got worse for Lotus when subsequent data analysis back at their UK factory revealed there was no quick fix for the problem and as a result they will not run for the rest of the week in Barcelona.

Charles Pic was the day’s 11th - and final - runner for Marussia. Pic covered 121 laps in the team’s 2011 car.

"It’s great to be back in action after almost three months away from the race track," said team principal John Booth. "Although it is disappointing that we are not here with our 2012 car, the opportunity to use the MVR-02 with its impressive reliability to complete a whole series of pit stop scenarios with the race team and Charles is invaluable. We finished the afternoon off with a full race simulation. Overall a positive way to start our 2012 season testing.”

Testing continues in Spain on Wednesday.

Unofficial Tuesday test times from Barcelona:
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.265, 79 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:23.440, 97 Laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.590, 114 Laps
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.618, 76 Laps
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:24.100, 75 Laps
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:24.150, 51 Laps
7. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:24.219, 66 Laps
8. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:25.711, 97 Laps
9. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:26.035, 31 Laps
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1: 26.809s, 7 Laps
11. Charles Pic, Marussia*, 1:28.026, 121 Laps
* 2011 car

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