• First Barcelona test - Day 2

Hulkenberg jumps to top of the times at Barcelona

Laurence Edmondson at the Circuit de Catalunya
February 22, 2012
Nico Hulkenberg set a new benchmark time at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday morning © Sutton Images
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Nico Hulkenberg topped the timesheets ahead of lunch on the second day of testing at Barcelona with a new fastest lap time of 1:22.608.

The Force India was closely matched by Sergio Perez's Sauber as both drivers put in impressive lap times that would have secured eighth and ninth on the grid at last year's Spanish Grand Prix. Comparisons are fairly meaningless due to different track conditions and tyres, but the efforts of both drivers are an early signal that there will be a competitive midfield this year.

Sebastian Vettel was third fastest after leading the way for much of the morning with a lap time of 1:23.056. He then stayed in the garage for the best part of two hours before returning to the track on soft tyres just before lunch to set a 1:22.891. However, the downtime meant he completed just 31 laps during the four-hour long morning session.

Daniel Ricciardo set the fourth fastest time after a stuttering start to the morning when a problem forced him to stop on track and brought out a red flag. The team soon got him back on track and he racked up 44 laps before lunch, completing some pit stop practise along the way

Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest after an industrious morning in the Ferrari in which he completed over 50 laps. The team was comparing on various exhaust solutions, meaning long periods in the garage followed by data-gathering runs on track.

Lewis Hamilton's best lap was a 1:24.040, which placed him sixth at lunch time, 1.432s off Hulkenberg's best. He completed 45 laps over the morning but did not appear to be hunting lap times.

Nico Rosberg was the busiest man of all with 75 laps as he pounded round on longer runs during his first full day of testing in the new Mercedes W03. It was an impressive show of reliability on the car's second day of group testing and important after the team ran last year's car at the first test in Jerez.

Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas was eighth fastest as he got his first morning of testing in the new FW34. The Finn continued the team's work in a similar vein to Senna the day before, with a time a tenth slower and a decent amount of mileage.

Vitaly Petrov got his first taste of the Caterham CT01 and appeared to be a little out of sorts for most of the morning. An hour before lunch chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne tweeted: "Spent time getting the seat, steering wheel and brakes right for Vitaly but now much better and out for first proper run." His best time at lunch was a 1:26.605 after 36 laps.

Charles Pic again rounded off the times with a 1:28.092 in last year's Marussia.

Times

Driver Car Time Laps
1. Nico Hulkenberg Force India VJM05 1:22.608 63
2. Sergio Perez Sauber C31 1:22.648 51
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RB8 1:22.891 31
4. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso STR07 1:23.639 45
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari F2012 1:23.640 52
6. Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP4-27 1:24.040 45
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes W03 1:24.555 75
8. Valtteri Bottas Williams FW34 1:25.858 69
9. Vitaly Petrov Caterham CT01 1:26.605 36
10. Charles Pic Marussia MVR02 1:28.092 47

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