Cameron Curwood, F1 correspondent
Schumacher fastest in 2011 car; Webber tops the new 2012 car times
Michael Schumacher topped the times in day two of FIA Formula One's winter testing, notching a 1m18.561s on the Jerez circuit in Spain, in the 2011 Mercedes. Mark Webber, first of the 2012 cars, followed him with a 1m19.184s, while Webber's fellow Australian, Torro Rosso's young Daniel Ricciardo, posted the third fastest time, 1m19.587, in the new 2012 STR7.
Schumacher completed a massive 132 laps, using the old 2011 to evaluate the new 2012 Pirelli tires, commenting, "We made the most of a reliable car today to do lots of laps and learn a lot about the new Pirelli tires, and how they perform on longer and shorter runs, and with different set-up configurations. It was a good and productive test, full of lots of useful information for the season ahead, and I am now looking forward to driving our 2012 car for the first time at the next test." Mercedes will debut the new 2012 at a test in Barcelona, while Nico Rosberg will take over from Schumacher for the final day of their testing the old car at Jerez, the two drivers having split Tuesday's running.
It was pretty good today.
Webber was also happy with how much mileage he was able to put on the new car. "We did well on the mileage today," he said. "I guess we could have done a bit more, but it was positive overall and the conditions were good to test in." Webber completed 97 laps in the RB8.
He was also happy with the progress on the car. "It was pretty good today," he commented. "I think we're making good progress although, as I keep saying, it's still very early days in the concept of the car and we have a lot to get through before we race it. But it's the same for all the teams."
Like Schumacher, Webber hands over the car to his teammate, with defending champion Sebastian Vettel taking the RB8 in tomorrow's testing.
Ricciardo, like Webber and Schumacher, improved on his Tuesday time, and was also happy with the mileage he got from the car. "I am happy with what we did today," he said. "One hundred laps is around twice the distance we did yesterday. So we achieved our aim of getting plenty of miles for me and the car with a mix of short and long runs, trying three different tire compounds. I also did some practice starts and pit entry tests, just about as much as one can do in one day. We have made progress and were even able to do some back to back runs to start finding out how the car reacts to set-up changes."
For Thursday's test session, the Torro Rosso will be in the hands of Ricciardo's rookie French teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.
The top three were the only drivers in the 1m19s, with the fourth spot held by Force India's reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, who recorded a 1m20.221s. This time was not as quick as what teammate Paul di Resta had recorded on Tuesday, but was 0.051s faster than what di Resta managed Wednesday. Di Resta captured the 6th spot, with the Force India teammates being split by Tuesday's fastest driver, Kimi Raikkonen.
"It may only have been half a day," said Bianchi, "but the team asked me to do quite a lot of things and we managed to complete almost 50 laps before lunch. For me this year is all about learning and helping the team as much as I can, so today was important for that and getting to know the team."
Di Resta took over in the generally slower afternoon, which di Resta attributed to the wind. "It was also one of the more difficult days because the wind seemed to get very strong from midday onwards, which made driving the car very tricky," he said.
Lotus driver Raikkonen also mentioned the wind. "Conditions were quite windy on track but despite this I got a better feeling from the car so it's positive progress." Despite doing 117 laps throughout the day, Raikkonen's time was almost half a second slower than what he done the previous day. That maybe can partly be blamed on an incident Raikkonen had in the morning, when he damaged the underside of the new E20.
"There was a small issue with damage to the floor this morning when I went off and came back on to the circuit," he said. "An edge on a kerb caused the damage and we lost some time as it was repaired."
Seventh on the sheets was another driver that improved his time from the previous day. Felipe Massa notched a 1m20.454s lap, over two seconds quicker than Tuesday's time. Despite this, the Ferrari driver, driving the new F2012, was still over a second behind Webber, and even further from Schumacher.
Massa said, "We concentrated on setting up a lot of specific points and there is still a lot to do: as usual, some things work the way they should, others less so. For example, I did a lot of laps at constant speed to gather information on the aerodynamics and on the general handling, because we need to be sure of the direction in which we need to go on the development front."
He also found some other positives on the day. "I think the F2012 could well suit my driving style better than the previous car: for example, there is much less understeer," he noted.
Behind Massa on the time sheets was another driver more used to being at the top of them. Jenson Button recorded a 1m20.668s lap in the McLaren-Mercedes.
McLaren claimed they were generally satisfied though. "It's satisfying that Jenson's been able to complete more than 600km of trouble-free running over the past two days," said McLaren team manager David Redding. "That puts us in a good position for the rest of the week." Like most teams, McLaren are switching drivers for day three, with Lewis Hamilton taking over from Button.
Sergio Perez was next on the time sheet, posting a 1m20.711s in the Sauber-Ferrari C31. Perez took over from teammate Kamui Kobayashi, who had completed day one.
Perez's day however was not trouble-free. "It was a shame that we lost track time due to the fuel system problem in the afternoon," he said, "but I think we can catch up tomorrow. We have a huge programme for Thursday and I'm looking forward to it very much. Compared to yesterday we have already learnt a great deal more about the C31." Kobayashi returns on Friday.
Tenth in the running was Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, who was over two seconds quicker than his Tuesday time. "We did some long runs this afternoon and the car is looking good," he said. "We will now spend some time analysing all of the data we have gathered."
Teammate Bruno Senna takes over on Thursday for the third day of testing the new Williams FW34.
Eleventh in Wednesday's running was Caterham-Renault driver Heikki Kovalainen, who completed the most laps of the day, an impressive 139.
"Yesterday we had a problem that was nothing to do with the car," Kovalainen noted, "so today was our first real day of testing and we had a trouble-free day, completing most of what we wanted to on day one and day two and working through a variety of set-up changes."
Last in the running was Pedro de la Rosa, who completed 64 laps in the 2011 HRT F111, the fastest lap being a 1m22.128s. HRT were the only team other than Mercedes, at the other end of the time sheet, to be running their 2011 car.
"Today we've progressed quite a bit as the day wore on," said de la Rosa. "We've got more out of the car without having changed practically anything. Above all, today served me to get to know the tyres better."
As mentioned, testing continues Thursday at the Jerez circuit.
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1m19.184s||+ 0.623||97|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1m19.587s||+ 1.026||100|
|4.||Jules Bianchi||Force India||1m20.221s||+ 1.660||46|
|5.||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus||1m20.239s||+ 1.678||117|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India||1m20.272s||+ 1.711||69|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1m20.454s||+ 1.893||95|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren||1m20.688s||+ 2.127||85|
|9.||Sergio Perez||Sauber||1m20.711s||+ 2.150||68|
|10.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams||1m21.197s||+ 2.636||97|
|11.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham||1m21.518s||+ 2.957||139|
|12.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT||1m22.128s||+ 3.567||64|
Times are unofficial