Mark Webber produced the star performance on the opening day of this week's preseason test at Barcelona on Thursday with the fastest lap overall – and strong long-run times to boot.
The Red Bull Racing driver set his best lap of 1m21.487sec during the morning session, when he focused exclusively on short blasts of a few laps that went some way toward showing the potential of his RB6 on low fuel.
His best effort, set shortly before 12:30 p.m., was not matched by any other driver – and, in fact, he had a further eight laps that would have been good enough for him to head the time sheets. In the afternoon, Webber completed a long 26-lap run, which showed encouraging consistent improvement throughout the stint, before his car stopped on track and brought out a red flag.
Despite that hiccup, the fact that Webber ended the day just less than one second faster than his nearest rival – on an aerodynamic track that plays to the strengths of his car – will have been a big boost to the team that has seen early testing with its car disrupted by poor weather.
Webber's nearest challenger was Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, whose best effort of 1m22.407sec came right near the end of the day as he reeled off a sequence of qualifying simulations in the FW32. That performance edged him ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes GP W01, who had spent most of his day working through long run simulations, apart from a brief flurry of short stints before the midday break.
Rosberg appeared to be trying a race simulation in the afternoon, getting through 24 laps before a stop for new tires. However, shortly after he resumed, his car came to a stop at Turn 10, bringing out one of the day's many red flags.
Pedro de la Rosa continued BMW Sauber's steady progress in testing to set the fourth-best time of the day, putting in his best effort of 1m23.144sec late on.
Jenson Button was another driver saving his best until the end, with his best lap of 1m23.452sec coming on the 11th lap of a 14-lap run that came to an end when his car stopped just before Turn 10 – to bring out a red flag that resulted in the day's proceedings being brought to a halt a few minutes before its scheduled cut-off point.
Vitantonio Liuzzi made steady progress in the Force India, which also included him working on pit-stop scenarios with his team, to set the sixth-best time, while Fernando Alonso ended the day seventh overall in the Ferrari.
It was a far from perfect day for Alonso, whose F10 stopped on track shortly before 10:25 a.m. with a suspected electronic problem, and he did not re-emerge until just before the lunch break. He was only able to complete 22 laps during the morning session. In the afternoon, Alonso got his lap tally up to 74 as he focused on long runs – never bothering with the low fuel stints that would have moved him up the time sheets.
Behind Vitaly Petrov and Jaime Alguersuari, there was more frustration for Virgin Racing, which saw Lucas di Grassi hit the barriers at Turn 9 after spinning off the track late in the morning. The rear of the VR-01 took the brunt of the impact, and the team was unable to get the damage repaired due to a lack of spare parts. The team hopes to be able to continue testing on Friday when new parts are flown out.
Fairuz Fauzy ended his first proper day of testing in the Lotus at the bottom of the time sheets, just less than one second adrift of di Grassi's best time.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:21.487 109
2. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:22.407 81
3. Rosberg Mercedes GP (B) 1:22.514 107
4. de la Rosa BMW-Sauber (B) 1:23.144 73
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:23.452 100
6. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:24.064 64
7. Alonso Ferrari (B) 1:24.170 74
8. Petrov Renault (B) 1:24.173 73
9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:24.869 111
10. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth (B) 1:27.057 31
11. Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth (B) 1:28.002 76
All Timing Unofficial