By Nancy Knapp Schilke
- Wet conditions end Formula One pre-season testing
- Rossberg was fasted of the trio who did lay down times
- A good test for the Pirelli wet tires
Formula One ended the final pre-season test today in Barcelona, Spain. The weather played a factor today but both Mercedes drivers took to Circuit de Catalunya with Nico Rosberg having it a bit easier in the afternoon to set the fastest time of the day.
Rosberg's best was 1m43.814s covering 35 laps as the team first had Michael Schumacher test out the Pirelli wets. Both drivers did race weekend scenario including a grid procedure simulation. The persistent rain, at times referred to by the teams present as "torrential".
"We have made a lot of progress over the four tests this winter and it's really nice to see that things are going in the right direction," added Rosberg. "" Schumacher never completed a lap on-track to set a time but he was one of only five drivers to venture out in today's very wet circuit. "It was good to complete a few laps out there this morning and try out the Pirelli wet tyres. There was obviously a limit to what we could achieve, but we made good use of the time by working through our race procedures. It's been a good week here in Barcelona and we're certainly happy with our position going into the first race of the season," he said.
"We've had a very productive test in Barcelona working on the final specification of the MGP W02 for the first race of the season in Australia. Our upgrade package has performed as we expected, however Formula One continually moves forward, and as always, we will keep looking for more performance," stated team principal Ross Brawn.
Second best was set by Williams' team rookie Pastor Maldonado who proved in the GP2 series he is fast on a wet track. Still today was a near washout similar to the inaugural Formula 1 race last year in Korea. His best lap was 1m44.333s as he completed 23 laps.
"We lost some time while we changed the engine and then during the installation lap we had another minor engine problem. In the end I only did one long run but the most important thing was that I got to drive the car with the new aero package which does feel better. Hopefully we will get a full day of running in tomorrow," said Maldonado.
Williams team mate Rubens Barrichello was on track but did not record a time as explained by Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Rubens completed a race distance this morning, which marked the end of his winter test programme. The mileage and input he has given towards setting up the FW33 has been invaluable to the team. We had an oil leak on the engine at lunchtime before Pastor took over for the afternoon. As it was high mileage, we chose to change it. We achieved most of our programme today and it looks like we'll be into some wet running tomorrow. We will continue to run in Barcelona without KERS, but everyone's pushing to ensure we have it on the car for Melbourne."
We've had a very productive test in Barcelona working on the final specification of the MGP W02.
Lewis Hamilton was out in the morning for the McLaren team but due to the weather, the 2008 world champion only conducted a handful of "lower-speed runs to evaluate engine maps," per the team. In the afternoon, Hamilton was turning timed laps and ended up with a best time of 1m44.560s.
"We tested a couple of things during some shorter runs, but it was very dangerous out there: very slippery and lots of aquaplaning. This definitely isn't normal Spanish weather!" said Hamilton adding, "We learnt a bit about the Pirelli Intermediates and Extremes, but there was so much aquaplaning that it was a bit too risky to do longer runs."
Fernando Alonso was also on track testing the Pirelli tires plus simulation runs. Like Schumacher and Barrichello, he did not record a lap time.
Only four teams were on hand for today and they, plus the other teams, will continue to prepare for the first race of the new season in Australia. Hamilton is already looking ahead and stated: "As for the world championship, I'm excited we've got a long season ahead of us. We've got a lot of work to do, but we have more updates coming for Melbourne. The championship is open, and we don't know what to expect. Our whole team will be pushing very, very hard."