Vettel fastest on day one in Barcelona

2012 F1 testing

Posted on

| Written by

Sebastian Vettel was quickest at the Circuit de Catalunya

Sebastian Vettel led the way for Red Bull in the first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya today.

The world champion set a best time of 1’23.265 – two seconds slower than the fastest lap of the circuit in testing last year, set by Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher was at the wheel of the new Mercedes W03 for the first time at a public test and was one of six drivers to lap within a second of Vettel’s best time. The others were Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez.

Charles Pic had his first run for Marussia after being confirmed as the team’s second driver this year. He drove the team’s 2011 car and was slowest of the day’s runners.

Heikki Kovalainen brought out the red flags early on in the day when he spun his Caterham. The team blamed a problem with the rear suspension and Kovalainen spent several hours in the pits while it was sorted out, before returning to the track.

Sauber also lost time with a problem on their C31 requiring them to remove its gearbox for repairs. And Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso came to a stop with an hour to go, bringing out the red flags once more.

But Lotus were hardest hit by technical problems. The team had to scrap the day’s testing entirely after running into a problem with their second E20 chassis.

Driver Car Best time Laps Difference
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault RB8 1’23.265 79
2 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes VJM05 1’23.440 97 0.175
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes MP4-27 1’23.590 114 0.325
4 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR7 1’23.618 76 0.353
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari F2012 1’24.100 75 0.835
6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes W03 1’24.150 51 0.885
7 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari C31 1’24.219 66 0.954
8 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault FW34 1’25.711 97 2.446
9 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault CT01 1’26.035 31 2.770
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault E20 1’26.809 7 3.544
11 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth MVR-02 1’28.026 121 4.761

2012 F1 season

Browse all 2012 F1 season articles

Image © Red Bull/Getty images

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

40 comments on “Vettel fastest on day one in Barcelona”

  1. Nice to see Nico H near the top, and even close to SV. I always knew that kid had talent. ;-)

    Of course, everyone else was ‘sandbagging’ and we all know tests never show actual pace.

    Im starting to get that warm itch, its nearly F1 TIME again!!!

  2. kenneth Ntulume
    21st February 2012, 16:13

    A not so strange headline

  3. Funny how the gap has suddenly decreased.
    Its still large, but if we don’t consider what the expected order of performance is, but just looking at the gaps this is relatively close to the gaps we see in qualifying between the best, 2nd, 3rd team and so on.
    In Jerez the gaps was ridiculously large, and between most cars it were in seconds rather then tenths.
    Is that a sign of teams getting close to gathering real race simulation data, rather then fixed speed runs to determine windtunnel and CFD accuracy, or maybe more importantly inaccuracies etc. Or is it just a coincidence?

    1. I would say its because the first thing you offer, teams getting into race simulation like running.

  4. Very nice to see McLaren getting a whole heap of laps in, looks like we have a good baseline to work from this year.

    1. Wow, they really ramped it up in the afternoon. They’d only done about 45 before lunch.

      1. After Ferrari’s tally last year, we all know it don’t mean too much, but its always nice to see a large lap tally rather than a small one!

        1. It did mean a lot: they were reliable all season long

    2. Indeed they do.

    3. so much better than the start of last season! Hopefully raw pace is good in melbourne, McLaren usually over achieve there anyway!

  5. So it begins again… (maybe)

  6. Nice to see Hulkencurve/Unkelberr (depending if you ask Jonathan Legard or Fernando Alonso) near the top of the timings.

    1. Good pickup on the name, I’ve noticed that too!

  7. The laptimes are quite interesting. If youc ompare it to on-the-limit laps from SPain 2011 qualifying; that RB8 is lapping 2.4s down on the pole time. Vettel did that on hards; so taking into account that; that’s maybe some 8 tenths based on Pirelli’s estimates of the year; so so far we can safely say they’re 1.6s down on last year at most, flat out vs flat out. Without the EBD; that’s quite something.

    1. But the RB8 surely was not pushing it today to achieve that lap time?
      I think, by the first race, some of the teams may have found most of that lost speed back!

      1. @Preekel Oh I think Vettel was pushing. It’s just that he wouldn’t have been on fumes; and he was on hard tyres. It gets more difficult year on year to regain lost performance as the cars reach the peak of what is possible with the current regs.

        1. I’m not saying Vettel was not pushing, I’m saying they are no where near pushing the car to its limits, like you say, hard tyres and highish fuel.
          The gap to last years qualy time will be minimal if they were to do a qualy run under the same conditions!

    2. I often find it interesting how engineers find ways to extract performance under any given rules. I am sure the gap from last year will shrink.

      F-Ducts, Huge Diffusers, Exhaust Channeling, all very innovative stuff.

      FIA/FOTA tries to respond with spec limitations, parts bans, and rule changes, but somehow, someway, the engineers find another loophole, another great idea.

      I love F1.

      1. @javlinsharp I hate restrictions to be honest! I love seeing different paths. I love it when you see so many super different concepts producing near identical laptimes. Like in 2011; McLaren opted for weird; never seen before sidepods. Newey opted for shrinkwrapped sidepods. And both were absolutely neck and neck at times.

        1. @raymondu999
          Im with you. If I had my way, I would remove all engineering restrictions except those for safety, and impose an ultimate spending cap including the entire cost of running the team.

          I really hate when innovation is stifled simply because of belly aching from some high-powered team(s) because they didnt think of it first.

          You want interesting races with disparate winners, You want to see more than the same 3 teams on the podium race after race? do you think KERS and DRS mandates are artificial and stupid? Do you love to see a struggling team asend to greatness in spite of overwhelming odds, or a winning team make wrong choices and get shuffled back? Let the engineering roam free, its the reason why most of us are here anyway.

          Im sure there is some logical argument against these ‘green field” statements, and I would love to hear it.

  8. Hope merc do well this year. Also nice to see hulkenberg near the top. He will beat di resta this year mark my words………

  9. Hmmm, Deja Vu.

    1. Indeed.

    2. As long as it’s testing…
      I have a bad feeling about this.

  10. *disappointed sigh*; and so it begins again…

    1. It`s got to be Geoff
      21st February 2012, 18:22

      You took the words out of my mouth,

      Starting to feel that malase that came with Schmumacher winning everything in the noughties.

      1. I have to agree. Nothing against Vettel, he’s obviously very talented, I just wish the field of competition were much closer together. I actually quit watching for a couple years during Schumacher’s reign because it just got entirely too redundant.

  11. Until someone’s actions prove otherwise come the post-race review of race 1, SV will be the man and car to beat, and so far it is status quo. Solid as they were last year, and still being a Newey car, no surprise that up until and including today they remain the target.

    1. @Robbie Don’t forget Newey does design bad cars even after dominant seasons. I’m just saying that he’s not the alpha and omega of car design – he’s human too.

      1. For sure…just doesn’t feel to me like we’re in for a bad Newey car right now…maybe if they had taken big chances with a big departure from last year it would be more of a question mark. And for sure he’s human too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is better at his job than he has ever been.

  12. I do hope the closeness of the top 7 are reasonably representative of raw speed, that’s the closest test day I can remember…

  13. This is Barcelona. Compare the times to last and previous years.
    Then remember this is testing, different fuel loads and programmes.
    Then calm down.

  14. Henry (@scuderiaexxon)
    21st February 2012, 17:30

    So the dominece of Vettel starts again :(

    1. Henry (@scuderiaexxon)
      21st February 2012, 17:33


  15. Lotus have pulled out completely from the test.

  16. It`s got to be Geoff
    21st February 2012, 18:34

    I think this will be an interesting year for Vettel because the honeymoon will be over, If Vettel walks away with it then the press will be looking for cracks elsewere in He`s life, This year we will see the onslaught of the media, they will question everything from He`s girlfreind to hes deoderant. If Vettel survives this year strong then i might be happy to wait till he drives an average car. Good luck Sebastion.

  17. I think the only vague conclusions you can draw from testing are that of reliability. Those little victories can easily turn into tenths while your rivals pick up the pieces, literally sometimes.

    Nevertheless, it’s exciting though!

  18. Hate that Red bull exhaust its just too beautiful

  19. So I’ve read that Vettel set his time on hard tyres. Does anyone have any data on the tyres used by everyone else?

Comments are closed.