Barcelona testing – Day two analysis

The second day’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya gave us a fine lesson in why not to take laptimes as gospel when looking at testing results.

Sergio Perez topped the timesheets today with a time of 1:21.848, three tenths quicker than Sebastian Vettel, with Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso following closely behind.

McLaren had been off the overall pace over the last few days of running, but Perez’s time was not only extremely impressive, but emphasises the fact that his team have spent the last few days working on the long runs and various other things with set-ups instead of chasing laptime.

With Perez having laid down a marker not too dissimilar to Jenson Button’s effort on day one in Jerez, it shows that McLaren will be right in the mix this season.

Once again, Vettel was right up there with Red Bull. For the second day running, the German driver led the timesheets for the majority of the session before being knocked off his perch in the afternoon. Vettel’s time, like Perez’s, was set on the soft tyres and with the runs those times were set on similar in nature, it looks like McLaren could well have the upper hand on Red Bull at this stage.

Raikkonen kept up Lotus’ presence near the front end of the field for the second day in a row, while Hamilton picked up where his teammate Nico Rosberg left off yesterday and was in and around the frontrunners for most of the day. With predictions over Mercedes’ overall pace being rather downbeat after the first test of pre-season, the Silver Arrows’ prospects are looking more positive this week, and on a circuit which is a better barometer of car performance than Jerez.

Elsewhere, Alonso and Ferrari had another solid day, while Valtteri Bottas continued Williams’ positive start with their new car. While things may be looking good for the team from Grove, there has been controversy over the team’s new exhaust and there is a very strong possibility it could be banned before the start of the season. If such a decision is made by the FIA, it could well be detrimental to the performance of the car.

There were no other standout performances on day two, but Max Chilton’s Marussia finished ahead of the Caterham of Charles Pic for the second day running. With the battle of the minnows set to rage throughout the season, it is a positive start for Marussia as they look to bounce back from the disappointment of losing tenth place to Caterham at the last race of 2012.

Timesheets
1) Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren – 1m21.848s (97 laps)
2) Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull – 1m22.197s (84 laps)
3) Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus – 1m22.697s (43 laps)
4) Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes – 1m22.726s (121 laps)
5) Fernando Alonso (Esp) Ferrari – 1m23.247s (76 laps)
6) Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams – 1m23.561s (98 laps)
7) Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Toro Rosso – 1m23.718s (70 laps)
8) Paul di Resta (GB) Force India – 1m23.971s (62 laps)
9) Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Sauber – 1m24.205s  (88 laps)
10) Max Chilton (GB) Marussia – 1m25.115s (67 laps)
11) Charles Pic (Fra) Caterham – 1m26.243s (102 laps)

Stephen D’Albiac

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