Barcelona testing – Day four analysis

With rain hitting the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, any laptimes recorded by any of the teams were rendered utterly meaningless as the track conditions never got to a level where a proper dry time could be recorded.

In the small window during the morning where the cars were able to run on dry tyres, Lewis Hamilton was quickest, followed by Jenson Button, Jean-Eric Vergne and Jules Bianchi.

However, the day wasn’t a complete write-off as it gave teams the chance to try out Pirelli’s new wet-weather tyres for the first time and gain a good amount of running on both the full wet and the intermediate rubber. With only four more days of testing remaining before the first race, there was a real danger that the season could start without any wet-weather track time and the teams could well have had to learn the tyres on the job during a race.

This is especially important when you consider that two of the first three races of the season (Malaysia and China) have a significant history when it comes to wet races and therefore the teams will be relieved to have been able to record some data on the tyres before the season starts.

The conditions did cause a number of stoppages throughout the day, with no fewer than eight red flags during the session.

With regards to the overall pecking order, Barcelona hasn’t taught us much more that we didn’t already know from the test in Jerez, although things look more positive for Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg saying the team has found more than a second from last season.

Williams have also made a good start to life with their new car and look to be somewhere near the front of the midfield, whilst Marussia look to be in a better position than Caterham at this stage, although their refusal to run Luiz Razia at all during the week is disappointing to say the least.

The top four teams from last season look very closely matched, with McLaren and Red Bull perhaps enjoying a small advantage over Ferrari and Lotus at this stage.

With that in mind, here’s a second (and probably wrong) pre-season stab at a pecking order:
1) McLaren
2) Red Bull
3) Lotus
4) Ferrari
5) Mercedes
6) Williams
7) Sauber
8) Force India
9) Toro Rosso
10) Marussia
11) Caterham

Timesheets
1) Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes – 1:23.282 (52 laps)
2) Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Mercedes – 1:23.633 (70 laps)
3) Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:24.071 (80 laps)
4) Jules Bianchi (Fra) Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.732 (96 laps)
5) Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari – 1:26.239 (61 laps)
6) Giedo van der Garde (Ned) Caterham-Renault – 1:27.429 (50 laps)
7) Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari – 1:27.563 (80 laps)
8) Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault – 1:27.616 (64 laps)
9) Max Chilton (GB) Marussia-Cosworth – 1:29.902 (51 laps)
10) Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Renault – 1:34.800 (41 laps)
11) Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Renault – no time set (23 laps)
12) Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Renault – no time set (13 laps)

Stephen D’Albiac

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