2012 Testing Preview: Barcelona 2
Formula One returns to the Circuit de Catalunya for the third and final test before the opening race in Australia on 18th March. Ferrari and Red Bull had planned to start a day later than their rivals, extending the test in to Monday until the FIA stepped in with a clarification of the testing rules. As it happens, however, the FIA may be doing them a favour as Monday is currently forecast to be wet while Thursday is set to be the best day – which would have been embarrassing. However, Marussia will miss the test altogether having failed one of the seventeen crash tests.
Elsewhere, Lotus return hoping for a more successful test after abandoning the previous meeting with just seven laps on the board when a chassis problem manifested itself. Plans to run an additional day to make up for the lost week appear to have been scuppered along with Ferrari and Red Bull’s desire to run late. The rules states that apart from the young drivers’ test and straight-line testing, no testing may take place “…between the start of the week preceding the first Event of the Championship and 31 December of the same year.” The FIA have now clarified that as meaning the full week before the the Australian Grand Prix and not, as Ferrari and Red Bull thought, the week of the season opener. Curiously, last year’s subsequently-abandoned Bahrain test was scheduled to end eight days before the season curtain-raiser and some would say that, actually, Sunday is the first day of the week anyway but let’s not go there… The fact is that the weather forecast appears to favour the switch and so there is little surprise that Ferrari are not making more of a fuss.
|Force India||di Resta||Hulkenberg||di Resta||Hulkenberg|
*Subject to changes
Having failed to pass its final crash test, the unveiling of Marussia’s new charger has been put back, and means they will miss this week’s test. A straight-line test remains a possibility although the car could equally miss the first race if things don’t go their way. HRT, however, have completed the safety program although there remain question marks about just how involved in this week’s test they will be.
The home of the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991, the circuit has become a staple of the winter testing program. However, its not always been a smooth ride – in 2008, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to racist abuse by some local fans. Still, the circuit’s mix of long straights and varying corners make it an ideal place to appraise the aerodynamics and handling of a Formula One car.
|Thursday Clear, dry and sunny with gentle westerly breezes. Temperatures reaching 20°C.|
|Friday Continuing dry and sunny with maximum temperatures of 19°C.|
|Saturday Showers in the morning, breaking to give a brighter afternoon. Maximum temperatures of 19°C.|
|Sunday Likely to remain dry although with some cloud cover present and gentle westerly breezes. Maximum temperature 18°C.|
By the final test, the more usual suspects usually start hogging the limelight although Sauber’s Sergio Perez, quickest on the third day of testing in 2011, was no indicator of real form. Williams currently lead the pack in terms of mileage, with McLaren not far behind – a marked contrast to last year when McLaren struggled with their exhaust system. Williams have racked up the equivalent of twelve races distances so far, giving them confidence that their car will be reliable if nothing else.
Last Year at Barcelona (8-12 March)
1:21.249 – Mercedes, Michael Schumacher (Day 4)
1:21.614 – Ferrari, Fernando Alonso (Day 4)
1:21.761 – Sauber, Sergio Perez (Day 3)
1:21.788 – Mercedes, Nico Rosberg (Day 4)
1:21.865 – Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel (Day 2)
Weather: A mix of heavy cloud and sunny days, maximum of 18°C. Day 5 was very wet.
This Year at Barcelona (21-24 February)
1:22.312 – Sauber, Kamui Kobayashi (Day 4)
1:22.391 – Williams, Pastor Maldonado (Day 3)
1:22.608 – Force India, Nico Hulkenberg (Day 2)
1:22.648 – Sauber, Sergio Pérez (Day 2)
1:22.891 – Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel (Day 2)
Weather: Dry and sunny, maximum of 22°C, track temperatures up to 31°C.
2012 Testing Round-Up – Barcelona 1