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motorsport-news.co.uk FEBRUARY 29 2012 3
Hamilton and Vettel pleased after strong form at Barcelona test
M c LAREN MEN POISED TO HALT VETTEL’S CHARGE
Despite admitting that Red Bull might have a slight edge, he added that the MP427 was better than he had expected. “The car has been behaving really well in high speed corners,” said the 27-year-old. “I think the baseline of our car is better than last year’s and the characteristics of the car is that it is better in high speed [turns]. At some stage wewill have some upgrades, so it will be even better.”
Button ran the final two days of the test and outpaced Webber on both days. He said that the team was understanding more andmore about the machine and it would be even better by the time the team got to the opening grand prix in Melbourne, Australia, onMarch 18.
“We have made a good step forward since the first test at Jerez in terms of understanding the car more, and also the reliability is much better than we had in Jerez,” said last year’s title runner-up. “There will definitely be something new to come for Melbourne. Wewill have an update on the car at the first race. It is not a completely straightforward update as it is not about bolting downforce on to the car – it is slightly more than that.”
Red Bull storm While the McLaren drivers racked up 463 laps between them, Red Bull’s track time was cut short myWebber’s failure on Thursday. That meant that the team was restricted to 365 laps in total. Webber said hewas unconcerned about the failures and that he expected
Vettel (right) reckons McLaren will be fast the car to perform well when the team got to Australia.
“We have a few plates spinning but that is how [technical head] Adrian Newey likes it at this time of year,” said Webber. “We could have done with a bit more [track time], but everybody is in the same boat. You always want to do 20 or 30 more laps each day, but in the end the guys worked hard and have done a great job. Weare a very ambitious team and we want to keep improving.”
The seven-time grand prix winner also acknowledged that McLaren would be a threat at the start of the season: “I think McLaren looks pretty well prepared, but we have seen it in the past where people are not very organised and arrive at the first race very organised. That means we will just focus on ourselves.”
Red Bull has pushed back the dates of its final four-day test. Most teams will run in Barcelona from March 1-4, while the Milton Keynes team will join a day late and then stay on for an extra day afterwards when it will share the track with only Ferrari. It has been switched for logistical reasons.
Ferrari in a flap While Red Bull andMcLaren have had a relatively trouble free start to the testing programme, Ferrari has struggled and former world champion Fernando Alonso has admitted that the team isn’t able to judge how the F2012 stacks up to the rest of the grid in terms of pace.
“At the moment, we don’t knowwhere we are,” said the Spaniard. “I think maybe we are not the fastest but
Hamilton was impressed with the pace of his MP4-27
RED BULLVS McLAREN
-1.000 -0.900 -0.800 -0.700 -0.600 -0.500 -0.400 -0.300 -0.200 -0.100 0.000 +0.100 +0.200 +0.300 +0.400 +0.500 +0.600 +0.700 +0.800 +0.900 +1.000
The graph shows how fast McLaren was compared to Red Bull on all four days of the Barcelona test
Hamilton was 0.325s off the pace from Sebastian Vettel
Button takes over, and his best lap is 0.853s faster than Webber
DAY 1 TUESDAY DAY 1 TUESDAY DAY 1 TUESDAY DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1 DAY 1
Lewis slipped even further back behind Vettel increasing the gap to 0.915s
DAY 2 WEDNESDAY DAY 2 WEDNESDAY DAY 2 WEDNESDAY DAY 2
TESTING DAYS WEDNESDAY TESTING DAYS TESTING DAYS TESTING DAYS DAY 2 WEDNESDAY
Button is quicker than Webber again, this time by 0.574s
definitely we are not the slowest – so we need to wait and see, especially in the final test.” He admitted that the car was unstable on the exit of corners and that was something that needed addressing before Melbourne. Alonso also said that it would take some clever thinking to outsmart Red Bull and halt Vettel’s march to a third consecutive world crown.
“Red Bull seems competitive,” he said. “They will always be there, soMcLaren and Ferrari need to invent something and be a bit more creative to beat Red Bull and that is what both teams did. McLaren and Ferrari have chosen different solutions, different philosophies that are maybemore complex. However, wewill see the results in Australia andmore importantly [at the end of the season] in November.”
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER UPBEAT ON MERCEDES FORM ON PAGE FOUR