Testing: Barcelona 8th-12th March

Due to the scheduled test and Grand Prix being cancelled in Bahrain, teams returned to Barcelona for a final pre-season test. While the test ran over five days, teams only drove on four days each. The fastest times of each of the drivers over the five days can be seen below:

1. Schumacher 1:21.249
2. Alonso 1:21.614
3. Perez 1:21.761
4. Rosberg 1:21.788
5. Vettel 1:21.865
6. Heidfeld 1:22.073
7. Massa 1:22.092
8. Barrichello 1:22.233
9. Kobayashi 1:22.315
10. Buemi 1:22.396
11. Webber 1:22.466
12. Petrov 1:22.670
13. Alguersuari 1:22.675
14. Hamilton 1:22.888
15. Button 1:22.910
16. Kovalainen 1:23.437
17. di Resta 1:23.653
18. Sutil 1:23.921
19. Maldonado 1:24.108
20. Valsecchi 1:25.406 (Team Lotus)
21. Hulkenberg 1:26.030
22. Trulli 1:26.090
23. Razia 1:26.725 (Team Lotus)
24. D’Ambrosio 1:27.336

HRT launched their 2011 challenger on the Friday (day four of the test), with it due to run on the Saturday. However, due to a problem with customs they were forced to pull out of the test, meaning that, as last year, they will be turning up at the first race of the season with the car yet to be out on track. As well as unveiling their new car, they finally announced their second driver – Vitantonio Liuzzi. This means that there are now 24 drivers confirmed – take a look here.

Mercedes GP brought an upgrade to their car which obviously moved them a step in the right direction as Schumacher topped the time-sheets. The upgrade included a new diffuser, wings, body work and exhaust layout.

Another team who managed to overcome earlier problems were Williams who managed to resolve their issues with KERS and confirmed that they would be using it in Australia.

McLaren had another disappointing test hampered by reliability problems – this time with the exhaust and also the engine was changed on Jenson Button’s car during one day. McLaren chose to sit out on the Thursday and ran on Saturday instead; however, there was a lot of rain on Saturday meaning running was compromised. Button believes that their true pace has been hidden by the reliability issues, which they hope to sort out before the season opener in under two weeks time.

Red Bull and Ferrari look to be the teams to beat so far this year, but of course you can never really reach any concrete conclusions from testing.

In other news from outside the test – Red Bull announced that Vettel was now contracted with the team until at least 2014; Kubica had a fourth surgery on his elbow and is continuing with his rehabilitation; and Hamilton ended the search for a new manager by announcing he had signed with Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment group.

After a delay, the 2011 season will finally get under way in Australia on the 27th March. With Pirelli suggesting that there could be an average of three stops per race for each driver, and many other unknowns the first race could be very interesting indeed! Don’t miss it!

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