• Barcelona Test Day One

Webber easily fastest after first morning

Laurence Edmondson in Barcelona March 8, 2011 « US Grand Prix boss favours artificial rain | »
Mark Webber set comfortably the quickest time in the Red Bull © Sutton Images
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Mark Webber comfortably clocked the fastest lap time on the first morning of the final pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona.

The Red Bull was one of just eight cars taking to the track on Tuesday, with Ferrari, Mercedes, Williams and HRT all deciding to delay their running by one day. McLaren, meanwhile, has opted not to run on Thursday and will test on the two days either side.

The teams that chose to skip Tuesday would have been feeling rather smug when their rivals were greeted by dark clouds and spits of rain in the morning. Once again the temperature was much lower than the heat expected in Australia for the first round of the season and the effect on the Pirelli tyres was visible, with familiar signs of wear as the rubber struggled to reach its operating temperature.

Webber's best time, which was faster than Felipe Massa's headline lap at the same circuit two weeks ago, was set on a very short run once the sun had come out and boosted track temperatures by 10C. His car looked particularly planted at the top of turn nine where a strong crosswind was causing havoc for some drivers as they crested the apex.

Heidfeld was Red Bull's closest rival but was over 2 seconds off, underlining the pace of the RB6. Renault was also focusing on short runs, but spent long periods of time in the garage making suspension and set-up tweaks to the R31. Heidfeld himself was struggling with a cold all morning and will be replaced by Vitaly Petrov in the afternoon.

GP2 AirAsia driver Davide Valsecchi was third fastest in the Lotus with 50 laps under his belt. His performance looked pretty very impressive up until 20 minutes before lunch when he spun into the barriers at turn 12. He walked away unharmed and with little damage to the car, but it won't have gone down too well with his team which will have to work flat-out in the lunch break. His AirAsia team-mate Luiz Razia will take to the track in the afternoon as Lotus gives its young drivers time in the car.

Sauber's Sergio Perez completed the most laps in the morning with 52 and finished fourth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India. Jenson Button was sixth with 42 laps to his name after a series of short runs and practice pit stops in the morning. He turned heads when McLaren sent him out with an unusual bulge on the MP4-26's nose cone, which, thankfully, is not a permanent appendage but part of the team's measuring apparatus for its latest front wing.

Sebastien Buemi failed to set a time in the morning session due to a mechanical problem. He stopped on the start-finish straight about on hour into the day's running and his car left a telltale patch of fluid on the track when it was lifted onto the back of a flatbed truck. Buemi did not return to the circuit for the rest of the morning.

Times

Driver Car Time Laps
1. Mark Webber Red Bull RB7 1:22.544 38
2. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:24.735 20
3. Davide Valsecchi Lotus 1:25.406 50
4. Sergio Perez Sauber C30 1:25.443 54
5. Nico Hülkenberg Force India VJM04 1:26.030 31
6. Jenson Button McLaren MP4-26 1:28.971 44
7. Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin MVR-02 1:33.502 20
8. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso STR6 No time 3

Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010