Vettel set the fastest time of the year at the Circuit de Catalunya on the first tour of a five lap stint before focusing on longer stints in the afternoon. The pace of Vettel today, and Webber yesterday, will have sent an ominous warning to competitors and showed that once more the Milton Keyes based team will have the fastest car on the grid.
Interestingly it was Toro Rosso that was the nearest competitor with Sebastian Buemi second fastest ahead of Vitaly Petrov. The pair both spent the morning working on race simulations before running a series of qualifying runs in the afternoon and finishing the day with pit stop practices. Buemi, and Toro Rosso, have impressed in testing thus far but it will only be in Australia that we get a clear picture of the progress that the team has actually made/
Lewis Hamilton had another difficult day with the McLaren driver hampered by a hydraulic leak and exhaust issues in the morning. Even so he managed to set a good time on a short afternoon stint. They have a troubling preseason and it looks like it will be a challenging early season for the team.
Ferrari had their first running of the week with Felipe Massa taking to the track today. The Brazilian completed 101 laps and focussed entirely on mid-distance stints. The team introduced various new parts and their pace shows that they are Red Bulls closest challengers. In stints of comparable length Massa was consistently on a par with Vettel.
Paul di Resta was sixth fastest fir Force India, just ahead of Kamui Kobayashi.
Nico Rosberg was eighth fastest for Mercedes. The team will test a host of upgrades throughout the week. Today saw them introduce a new exhaust and some body work changes. These are said to be the subtle changes that they will make with the rest of the week set to see more significant upgrades.
Jarno Trulli, Pastor Maldonado and Jerome D’Ambrosio also tested with the Williams driver severely hampered by a KERS problem that limited his running to 29 laps.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m21.865s 112
2. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.396s + 0.531s 120
3. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.670s + 0.805s 116
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.888s + 1.023s 57
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.324s + 1.459s 101
6. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.334s + 2.469s 118
7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.436s + 2.571s 107
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.807s + 3.942s 100
9. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m26.090s + 4.225s 98
10. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m26.989s + 5.124s 29
11. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m28.982s + 7.117s 64