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Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 2, Test 3, Barcelona

1) Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.716, 88 laps, Super Soft tyres.
2) Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:23.181, 72 laps, Medium Tyres.
3) Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:23.628, 75 laps, Soft Tyres.
4) Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.743, 65 laps, Medium Tyres.
5) Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:23.744, 79 laps, Medium Tyres.
6) Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:24.215, 62 laps, Medium Tyres.
7) Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:25.483, 61 laps, Medium Tyres.
8) Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:25.598, 75 laps, Soft tyres.
9) Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:26.316, 48 laps, Medium Tyres.
10) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:26.655, 120 laps, Medium Tyres.
11) Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:27.878, 102 laps, Hard Tyres.

The future of Luiz Razia came under serious media scrutiny today during the second test with Bianchi, Kovalainen and others all being linked to the Marussia seat. One of the F1 journalists tweeted a good point, namely that McLaren would not want Bianchi (a Ferrari driver) getting any knowledge of McLaren tech

Of all the names Heikki's came out top of the list, to such an extent that he felt it necessary to correct statements which had been made in the various rumour mills on the internet.

He did not deny it though.

Even more telling was the fact that Razia felt it was necessary to tweet that he remained confident of sorting out the difficulties which had arisen and retaining the seat he has barely sat in during testing.

Marussia are in a strange situation in that they got rid of Timo Glock because they were not guaranteed any money from FOM out of the Concorde Agreement, then Bernie appears to have agreed to fund them after they had made the decision in respect of Glock.

Now, with that promise, do they need Luiz Razia's cash to the extent that they have received the promise of a windfall which they were not expecting? Technically they may feel they are able to survive without that money and so put someone into the car that they know has F1 experience and can work competently without too much testing.

It is likely though that they'll continue with Razia because much of the money would appear to have been paid and, god forbid they should have to return those millions.

The rain fell in Spain again throughout the morning but began to peter off later to allow Jenson Button go into the lunch break on top of the leaderboard.  Romain Grosjean finished the day highest but, returning to the back of the grid, Marussia were once again ahead of the Caterham car in terms of timing.  In pre-season testing this is becoming a bit of a habit and could remain a habit in the first few races of the season if Mike Gascoyne doesn't quit tweeting about sailing boats and concentrate everyone's mind on the business at hand.

It may well be that Marussia has taken advantage of the McLaren facilities to design a car that, while still rooted firmly to the back of the pack, will still be seen to have made some real progress.  If they can nick 10th on merit they will have achieved great things.  I'm awaiting that fight with interest.

The other thing that has been cropping up over the last two days is this Pirelli "prototype" tyre, which I don't really understand. Each team seems to have been provided with 2 sets of this rubber over the course of the test and I'm unsure of exactly what they do.

They are not marked up in bright colours as are the official compounds and we've heard little information in relation to them.

Last year the rumour going around was that the teams had requested the branding be removed so they could hide particular elements of their test programmes from their competitors however Paul Hembrey of Pirelli told Auto Plus of France last march that these were prototype tyres that had been manufactured at a location other than the main factory in Turkey where the normal F1 range are produced and had been so made in order to ensure that a delivery of tyres could be made to enable testing in the event that an unforeseen event occurred which would hamper the usual delivery from Turkey or as it was quoted in;
The tyres were provided as prototypes to test Pirelli’s ability to provide current F1 rubber if Turkey’s output was compromised by natural disaster
Still, given the secretive world of F1 it wouldn't surprise any of us to find out that Pirelli would supply teams with whichever compound they requested as a "prototype".

A couple of the teams ran the DRS/DRD passive systems but with the weather, once again the data must be of basic value.

Gary Anderson on the BBC made much of the Ferrari's lack of stability coming out of the corners and once the live broadcast was available it was noticeable that the back end was twitchy, particularly coming out of slower corners where the acceleration was most extreme.  He said he noticed it on the Toro Rosso's too so put it down to the engine/power output.