World champion Sebastian Vettel was the pacesetter for the second day running at the Barcelona test. Red Bull’s driver drove two consecutive fastest laps with a best of one minute 23.315 seconds to head Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso by 0.204secs.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was affected by reliability problems and he was 0.663secs back in third.McLaren had another difficult day, with Jenson Button 1.6secs adrift, just ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta. After setting the pace on Friday, Vettel improved even further as the Red Bull team set to work practising qualification runs before turning their attention to a longer spell on track in the afternoon.
Withteam principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey watching on the pit wall, Vettel was in impressive form.
Team-mate Mark Webber, who went to talk to his team-mate in the garage after arriving at the track, will replace the German driver for the final two days. Alonso ran into problems in Barcelona, causing the first red flag of the day with an electronics issue and was delayed further by a mechanical problem.
Despite these issues he still managed to closed the gap on Red Bull on day two and was happy as he made way for Felipe Massa for the remainder of the test:
“This is the first day we had some problems but it is nothing to worry about. We have put a lot of mileage on the car, everything is running well and at the moment it feels OK for us. We expect Red Bull to be very competitive but there is a lot to come from Ferrari as well.”
McLaren’s day was affected by hydraulics problems, but Button returned to the track in the afternoon on a long run. The driver was 1.6 secs adrift of Vettel’s headline time in eighth and there were signs that McLaren were lagging behind Red Bull in race pace too.
BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz explained: “It does look like the McLaren is still significantly slower than the Red Bull when they are on comparable programmes. We don’t know exactly what tyres each team are running but Vettel was lapping quicker than Button despite being heavier with fuel in the early stages of a full race simulation.”
But Button said that the headline times were virtually meaningless:
“There are so many things going on and in testing it’s so difficult to get an understanding anyway. Ferrari does look competitive in terms of consistency but so do a lot of others and the Red Bull looks pretty good but not as good as the Ferrari. I still don’t know where we stand.”
The new Williams showed promise with Rubens Barrichello topping the times early in the day and the Brazilian ending up fourth fastest overall.
“We had a very productive day completing 118 laps which has helped make up for the time we lost on Friday,” Barrichello said.
“Today was the first time I was able to use Kers, running with it activated for about 75% of the day so I am feeling happy. We also did some longer runs and I feel we are getting better prepared with everything ready for the start of the season.”
Fastest times, day two, third pre-season test, Circuit de Catalunya:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault one minute 23.315 seconds
2 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.519
3 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:23.978
4 Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Williams-Cosworth 1:24.008
5 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 1:24.242
6 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.243
7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:24.730
8 Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.923
9 Paul di Resta (GB) Force India-Mercedes 1:25.194
10 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus-Renault 1:26.421
11 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:26.884
12 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Hispania-Cosworth 1:27.044
13 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin-Cosworth 1:27.242
14 Ricardo Teixeira (Ang) Lotus-Renault 1:31.584