F1

Toro Rosso drivers top Barcelona test charts

Toro Rosso drivers top Barcelona test charts

By simulating a qualifying session on low fuel, Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais topped time charts -- unofficial though they were -- at Saturday's Formula One testing in Barcelona, Spain. Sebastian ...

By simulating a qualifying session on low fuel, Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais topped time charts -- unofficial though they were -- at Saturday's Formula One testing in Barcelona, Spain.

Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Toro Rosso, S?bastien Bourdais, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Their quick laps, 1 minute, 21.679 seconds for Vettel and 1:21.782 for Bourdais, were the only ones below 1:22.

The STR-2 drivers led McLaren Mercedes aces Lewis Hamilton (1:22.135) and Heikki Kovalainen (1:22.511) in MP4-23s. They in turn led BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica (1:22.833) and Renault's Fernando Alonso (1:22.938).

As befits the term winter testing, temperatures at the 2.75-mile Circuit de Catalunya stayed cool under overcast skies, keeping teams from optimal testing. Still, many of the 14 drivers assembled put in race distance or better. At the wheels of Renault R28s, Alonso and Nelson Angelo Piquet (1:23.002) turned 115 laps each. Vettel logged 89 laps to Bourdais's 88.

Alonso's day included long runs in the morning, toward the end of which a smattering of rain fell, then new parts for aero testing in the afternoon. Piquet concentrated on basic set-up then worked on race procedures including starts and pitstops.

"The track conditions were not great today, but we did not have any problems and I did lots of laps, so we have lots of data that we will have to go through tonight with the engineers," Alonso said.

Teammate Piquet, son of the similarly named three-time World Driving Champion, expressed satisfaction after working through his planned program.

"I'm feeling more comfortable with the car and we are definitely making progress," Piquet said. "We did some practice starts and pitstops at the end of the day because without traction control a lot of things have changed and we need to get used to it."

Chief test engineer Christian Silk pronounced the day productive and said the team had achieved "the majority of our objectives".

BMW Sauber's pair of F1.08s also added news parts, intending to improve balance. Nick Heidfeld (1:23.014) and Kubica worked on aerodynamic and mechanical set-up. Both cars ran without technical problems, Kubica for 90 laps, Heidfeld for 75.

Also logging distance were the Red Bull R4s of Mark Webber and David Coulthard. Australian Webber ran 94 laps to a quick time of 1:23.020 and Scotsman Coulthard 85 for a 1:23.322.

Following them were the Williams Toyotas of Nico Rosberg (1:23.347) and Kazuki Nakajima (1:23.948), who combined for 74 laps.

Jenson Button ran the only Honda out, doing a best lap of 1:23.959 among 58. Also on his own was test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi driving the Force India to a quick lap of 1:24.263 in 61 covered.

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