by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte
e-mail: mercedesbenzblog@gmail.com

Barcelona F1 Test 2012 (II): DAY 2+3+4 Report (VMM)

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had a productive session at Barcelona in the last round of tests before the start of the 2012 season. As all the other competitors, the Brits focused on doing the essential preparations and getting the car ready for the first real race of this year. Both the team staff and drivers were happy with the general performance of the MP4-27 and concluded the engineers managed to find the right balance as to offer a competitive package that can be victorious right from the first grand prix. Check out the full action report of the last three days spent on the Barcelona track after the break!


DAY 2

- Driver: Lewis Hamilton
- Location: Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
- Track Length: 4.655km
- Weather: Foggy and overcast at dawn, clearing by mid-morning to remain warm and sunny for the rest of the day. Maximum ambient temperature 18.9°C, maximum track temperature 37.2°C
- Laps completed: 65
- Kilometres Covered: 303km
- Best Lap Time: 1m24.111s at 12:50


Programme

Second day of testing at Barcelona, and Lewis jumped into the car today. When early-morning fog kept the circuit closed, the team continued rehearsing full-race-crew pitstops in the pitlane.

However, the majority of the day was spent making lengthy adjustments to set-up in order to more fully understand the effects of change on the car. This meant the day was centred more around development, and less on headline-making laptimes.

The day also saw the expected conclusion of our evaluation of our launch-spec aero package. For Saturday and Sunday, we plan to introduce a suite of new components for evaluation ahead of the opening race in Australia in a fortnight’s time.

At the end of the day, a satisfied Lewis said:

“Today was all about testing set-up. It was a good day: we learned quite a lot and improved a few things. We didn’t get a lot of mileage, as we had a lot of downtime inbetween changes.

“Our car feels better set-up wise, we still haven’t added the new aero package – so I think we’ll get a better picture of what the car will be like in Australia over the next two days. But I definitely feel like we have a competitive car.

“This year’s winter testing has been way better than last year. I’ve not had any problems, we’ve ironed out a lot of issues and I feel very comfortable. I’m fit and ready for Melbourne.”


DAY 3

- Driver: Jenson Button
- Location: Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
- Track Length: 4.655km
- Weather: Warm and sunny in the morning, before growing increasingly overcast. A brief rainshower hit the track at 4pm. Maximum ambient temperature 15.9°C, maximum track temperature 32.2°C
- Laps completed: 44
- Kilometres Covered: 204km
- Best Lap Time: 1m22.103s at 14:58


Programme

Today was Jenson’s last day in the car before Melbourne and, appropriately, he spent it evaluating the new race package we intend to race in Australia later this month.

The morning was spent successfully installing and understanding the suite of new aero components, but this was interrupted by a hydraulics issue which kept the car in the garage until after the lunch break.

The day was further disturbed by a mid-afternoon rainshower – so today’s proposed set-up, tyre-comparison work and a long run were postponed, and will be conducted by Lewis tomorrow.

Jenson said:

“When you get new parts, you want to go out and put lots of laps on it in order to compare it to what you had previously – but we weren’t able to do that today. We had a hydraulics issue in the morning, which meant we didn’t do much running.

“So it wasn’t the easiest morning – and then we didn’t do much running in the afternoon either because of the rain. We put a couple of good laps in but didn’t get any set-up work done – because of the rain.

“It was nice to drive the new package, and I have a good feeling about it, but I need to work with it for a bit longer to find the right balance for it.

“Hopefully, Lewis will put some more laps on the car tomorrow.”


DAY 4

- Driver: Lewis Hamilton
- Location: Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
- Track Length: 4.655km
- Weather: Bright and sunny in the morning, eventually clouding over before an end-of-day shower just before the chequered flag.
- Laps completed: 115
- Kilometres Covered: 535km
- Best Lap Time: 1m22.430s


Programme

Final day of 2012 pre-season testing and Lewis resumed testing duties of the team’s proposed race-one aerodynamic upgrade.

The aim of today’s programme was to continue the analysis started yesterday by Jenson – and the team successfully spent the morning running through a suite of set-up and balance changes and a number of tyre comparison runs.

Into the afternoon, the aim was to put further miles on the new aero package over a simulated race distance. The programme was slightly knocked-back by a small hydraulic leak at the end of the day, but the leak fortuitously coincided with a late-afternoon rainshower, meaning the team lost little significant running.

At the end of the day, Lewis and the engineers declared themselves happy with progress, particularly over the course of a long-run.

Now, our focus turns to Melbourne…

Official photos and report courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

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