Frustrating day for teams at Barcelona test

Vettel on track at Barcelona

Vettel on track at Barcelona

The Formula One teams endured a frustrating opening day of testing at Barcelona, as overnight rain and technical problems reduced valuable mileage.

With heavy Thursday rain meaning the track was not fully dry until midday, the day’s fastest times were highly spread, as several teams switched straight to long runs in the afternoon.

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing ended the day with the fastest time, with the German’s 1:24.374s lap some 1.1s quicker than Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

Vettel completed just 37 laps however, and was left to rue an extensive period spent in the garage as his team sorted an unnamed mechanical concern.

Alonso completed 101 laps for Ferrari to be second fastest, ahead of Jaime Alguesuari (Toro Rosso) and Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber).

Jenson Button (McLaren) and Adrian Sutil (Force India) rounded out the top six, with the latter not joining the on-track action until the final hours due to a parts shortage.

Rubens Barrichello was seventh for Williams, while Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) remained optimistic of race wins this season after completing a race simulation on his way to eighth fastest.

The Hispania Racing Team joined its rivals for the first time at Barcelona, with Narrain Karthikeyan ninth fastest having completed 116 laps in the 2010 car.

Former Force India pilot Tonio Liuzzi will test with the team tomorrow, as he eyes the only remaining seat on the 2011 grid.

Fellow second-year teams Lotus (Heikki Kovalainen) and Virgin (Jerome D’Ambrosio) filled 10th and 11th today.

Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld ended ended a difficult day for Lotus Renault GP at the tail of the time sheets.

The pair completed just 47 laps between them, with Petrov’s afternoon stint heavily compromised by a KERS issue.

Having announced that it will take its ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ tyres to the first four races, Pirelli joined the teams in bemoaning the weather conditions.

The Italian company brought a revised soft tyre to Barcelona, and is now concerned that it will not be able to assess the tyre in sufficiently warm conditions prior to the season if the Bahrain test is cancelled.

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