Date:Monday February 27 2012
The second Formula One test of the winter has come to a close and some teams will be a lot happier than others.
The first test was a couple of weeks ago in Jerez and while the teams obviously will have learned a lot from those days running around the 2.75mile circuit in Andalusia, Spain, there wasn't a whole lot for us to go on.
In fact the biggest talking point was probably still the look of the new noses and when Mercedes unveiled their new 2012 challenger for the first time, complete with the stepped nose design that the whole field [except McLaren] have gone with, that sparked off that particular conversation again.
On track, the top teams like Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari had already ran their 2012 car, so Mercedes were immediately one step behind, but the team were generally happy with how their running had gone with their new car.
Ferrari again were a little bit disappointed, but Fernando Alonso was quick to point out that even if they are further behind in their development than Red Bull and McLaren, there was still plenty of time to make it up.
Lotus however had a terrible opening day testing in Barcelona, so much so that they didn't even return for the remaining days.
Romain Grosjean reported 'strange' feelings from his Lotus and after just seven laps the team were packing up to go home after discovering a major chassis problem, that could be so serious that the team are now racing against time to be ready for the Australian Grand Prix.
Caterham also experienced a trackrod problem, but the team were able to fix it and get Heikki Kovalainen before the day ended.
Marussia rookie Charles Pic had his first experience of Formula One in last seasons Virgin car, but while his times were the slowest over the four days, he did complete 229 laps of Barcelona's Catalunya circuit, which equates to over 650 miles of running [around three Grand Prix distances] which will be invaluable experience for the former GP2 driver, he would have had even more on track time if it wasn't for a suspension failure on Friday.
At the other end of the timing sheets there was an unfamiliar look to proceedings with Kobayashi's Sauber setting the fastest time over the first four days.
Sauber did however admit to the team working on qualifying setup at the time, which of course meant the Sauber was running on soft tyres, lighter fuel loads and qualifying set ups.
'Before lunch Kamui did qualifying runs. Qualifying was actually a weakness of ours in the last two seasons and we have to resolve this. This obviously requires proper practice. Kamui started with the medium compound before he used two sets of soft tyres, and in the end he got his first taste of the 2012 super soft compound.' Sauber's Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara told Sky Sports.
'[Kobayashi] did his fastest lap on the second set of softs. This lap time now stands as the overall fastest for this week, but of course this doesn't mean much because proper comparisons are never possible during testing with each team running different programmes. In the afternoon we did longer runs for race preparation.' he concluded.
Another surprise was in store for the second fastest driver over the four days as this was Maldonado for Williams, Pastor Maldonado did indeed run the super-soft tyre compound for this run, but Williams did not dismiss their times as qualifying runs and looked consistently quick on the final two days of testing.
Hulkenberg's Force India was third fastest ahead of the second Sauber driver Perez.
Defending Formula One World Champion Vettel was fifth fastest, but was the quickest of more likely contenders once the teams get to Australia.
The second Barcelona test gets under way at the end of the week.
Date:Monday February 27 2012
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