Formula 1 News

Vettel fastest in first day at Montmelo

Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo were the only one with times under 1:23s.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb 21, 2012 (F1plus Team). - German Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) who set the fastest times of the morning session did the same in the afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya (Spain), so that he impressively dominated this first day of testing on the Barcelona track.

The reigning world champion, whose car was sent to the track with intermediate tires and almost always ran in short runs of three to four laps, was the only one of the top drivers able to his own best record after the break of noon. Vettel best time was 1:23.65, less than 78 milliseconds he had marked by the morning.

The German main rivals, including three world champions (Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher) have not been able to lower their morning times and, therefore, their registry stayed the same.
Germany's Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) finished second with a 1:23.440 time. Third was Hamilton’s McLaren (1:23.590), fourth the Toro Rosso of Australian Daniel Ricciardo (1:23.618) and fifth, Alonso's Ferrari.

The Spaniard, who has alternated with race-start simulations and long runs for most of the day, not to lower from the 1:24s mark (his best was a 1:24.100). Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, which today officially premiered the new Mercedes W03 –unveiled earlier –, obtained times very similar to those of Alonso, separated by only .050.

In the afternoon session, Lotus did not come out and Caterham only did it at the very end of the session. Both teams had problems with their cars in the morning, when the Frenchman Romain Grosejan was only able to complete seven laps, and Finland's Heikki Kovalainen only nine.

Caterham mechanics have been working several hours with the front axle CT01 to solve a mechanical problem the team did not want to specify and finally seems to have solved.

Lotus problem looked more serious, as the chassis of the E20 has proven to be defective. In the best case scenario, the team will receive another chassis, already tested in Jerez, so not lose another day of testing.

Below the best times for the session:

Pos Driver Car Time Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RB8 1:23.265 79
2 Nico Hulkenberg Force India VJM05 1:23.440 97
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP4-27 1:23.590 114
4 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso STR07 1:23.618 76
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari F2012 1:24.100 75
6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes W03 1:24.150 51
7 Sergio Perez Sauber C31 1:24.219 66
8 Bruno Senna Williams FW34 1:25.711 97
9 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham CT01 1:26.035 31
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus E20 1:26.809 7
11 Charles Pic Marussia MVR02 1:28.026 121

Nico Hulkenberg during the first day of testing at Barcelona.

Nico Hulkenberg during the first day of testing at Barcelona.

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