Final pre-season testing as it happened

Text commentary of day one of the final pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, where Mark Webber was fastest.

28 February 2013 Last updated at 17:09 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 1635: 

    Here's Andrew Benson's report which tells you all you need to know about today's action. I'll be back tomorrow at 0750 GMT to do it all over again. More rain is forecast, but we can hope it doesn't materialise. Until then, it's good afternoon from me. Ciao.

  2. 1630: 

    Thanks, as always, for your super contributions on Formula 1 liveries. I think the top three were the black and gold Lotus, the 1991 green Jordan and any red and white McLaren. I'm expecting the same high level of chat on tomorrow's topic of the day.

  3. 1625: 

    That's just about it for today. Don't forget that Radio 5 live Sport will round up the day's testing in their first F1 programme of the new season, from 1930 GMT tonight. The show will feature a very special behind-the-scenes peek around the McLaren Technology Centre.


    Caterham's Charles Pic: "We had planned to do qualifying and race simulations but with the rain today we've switched the race simulation to Sunday when I'm back in the car, but we did run through all the qualifying procedures and that went pretty well."

  5. 1618: 

    Plenty going on off track, too, with Force India announcing Adrian Sutil as the partner for Paul di Resta and Luiz Razia's future as a Marussia race driver up in the air.

  6. 1612: 

    So we may have had a gloomy, wet start to the day, but things improved gradually throughout the day and we even got some dry running towards the end - even if it was still pretty windy.


    BBC F1 chief writer Andrew Benson: "Gosh, lots of excited people out there. Yes I know Mark Webber was on softs and Lewis Hamilton on mediums (about 0.5secs, by the way). And I know we don't know fuel loads."


    Marussia: "We end the day P9, ahead of the Caterham, with a 1:29.166 after 78 laps."

  9. 1606: 

    1. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:22.693

    2. Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:24.348

    3. Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:25.017

    4. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Renault 1:26.458

    5. Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.538

    6. Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.574

    7. Paul di Resta (GB) Force India-Mercedes 1:27.107

    8. Felipe Massa (BRZ) Ferrari 1:27.541

    9. Max Chilton (GB) Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.166

    10. Charles Pic (Fra) Caterham-Renault 1:28.644

    11. Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Renault 1:34.928

  10. 1603: 


  11. 1601: 

    Mark Webber goes even quicker next time around, clocking a 1:22.693 to go 1.655 seconds clear. Don't think anyone is going to top that at this stage.

  12. 1600: 

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson has more on Felipe Massa's stoppage out on track: "The flat spot on the front right tyre shows something strange happened. As far as I saw he didn't spin and when he got out he looked closely at the right front suspension."

  13. 1557: 

    Lewis Hamilton goes fastest with a 1:24.348, but he doesn't last long at he top of the timesheets as Mark Webber hooks up a tasty lap to go 0.485 seconds clear.

  14. 1556: 

    The rain may well have held off this afternoon, which has allowed some much needed dry running, but the teams will be less than happy with the strong winds because it affects the data they gather.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson in Barcelona:

    "Felipe Massa stopped at the start of the back straight, when he got out he had a long look at the right front suspension, I will go down and have a closer look."

  16. 1551: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    We're all clear out on track, and Max Chilton wastes no time getting out and about in his Marussia. He's joined by Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Jean-Eric Vergne.

  17. 1550: 

    Force India have called it a day after reaching the end of their programme, 14 minutes before the session ends. Paul di Resta clocked a best of 1:27.107 and 57 laps.

  18. 1548: 

    Gary Anderson continued: "If the aerodynamics of the car are designed around this concept then the complete underfloor acts like a diffuser accelerating the airflow under the complete car producing more underfloor downforce.

    "It is not easy but it is achievable as long as the exhaust-blown diffuser system and coke-bottle area work efficiently and helps to seal the underfloor sides which are further from the ground at low and medium speeds.

    "For this to work the car'a aerodynamic spec also needs to be more compliant, in other words more stable aerodynamics over a larger range of ride-height change. It is not easy and probably impossible just to jack up the rear ride-height. You need to start with this philosophy to make it work."

  19. 1546: 

    Re Gary Anderson's comment between 1420 and 1430 GMT, Chris Green asked: "Why would a bigger rake be of any advantage?"

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson: "A typical F1 car would normally run a front ride-height of around 20mm and a rear ride-height of 65mm. At the end of the straight, where the downforce load is highest, the front would be about 5mm and the rear about 20mm.

    "More rake means a higher rear ride-height, probably 80mm. That means the rear of the car can run a little softer giving better traction off the corners and will still go down to 20mm at the end of the straight.

    "Most F1 cars understeer at low speed so having more rake at low speed means the centre of pressure of the underfloor is more forward, reducing understeer, and as the car increases speed the rear will come down to more or less the minimum rear ride height possible (20mm)." Continued...

  20. 1541: 

    Felipe Massa was coming to the end of his race simulation so there's every chance he's run out of fuel. The Brazilian's car is being hoisted onto the back of a flat-bed truck with the marshals struggling to keep a red sheet covering the car because it's so windy.

  21. 1537: 

    It's red flag number three in Barcelona. Felipe Massa has come to a stop out on track.

  22. 1533: 

    Andrew Popplewell ‏asked: "If climate was not an issue which track would the teams choose to test at? Silverstone as close to head office?"

    Andrew Benson says: "You're looking at it. The Circuit de Catalunya is about as close to a perfect test track as you can get. It has a good mix of corners, and they're nearly all long. It is pretty much the greatest test of a car's aerodynamic efficiency, and that is what largely defines competitiveness."


    The favourite liveries chat has been coming through thick and fast...

    David Doherty: "Am I the only one who likes the Williams Mecachrome from 1998 which ran Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz Harald-Frentzen?"

    Gary Dosson: "The Jaguar was also a beautiful car to look at, and it was slow too so you had enough time!"

    Scott Braybrook: "Emerson Fittipaldi's black and gold JPS Lotus from the early 70s - best livery ever."

    Tweet using the #bbcf1 hashtag or txt 81111 (UK only), remembering to add your name to the messages...

  24. 1528: 

    Adrian Sutil has been speaking to the media after signing for Force India and made an interesting comment about his relationship with Lewis Hamilton.

    Sutil's friendship with the Brit ended over the incident where he was handed a suspended sentence and fine for an incident in a Shanghai nightclub in 2011 - Hamilton was in the nightclub at the same time but did not testify in the trial.

    The German said: "We have no relationship at the moment. I never saw him, I never spoke to him. For sure I will meet up with him, but I don't know what will happen."

  25. 1524: 

    Valtteri Bottas has sneaked in front on the timesheets, going one tenth faster than Esteban Gutierrez. Lewis Hamilton is three tenths off the pace, with Mark Webber one second slower than the Finn's leading time.

  26. 1520: 

    Esteban Gutierrez has just gone fastest with a 1:26.574, 0.9 seconds clear of Mark Webber in the Red Bull. Felipe Massa is third, Sergio Perez fourth and Lewis Hamilton fifth.

  27. 1515: 

    There are now 68 spectators in the grandstand, three less than earlier this morning (see 0908 entry). The 'Go Pedro Go' banner has now blown back on itself and is unreadable while an equally optimistic one reads: "See you back on the track Robert (Kubica)."

  28. 1511: 

    Huge lock up by Charles Pic at the first corner, running well onto the run-off before rejoining the fray. Felipe Massa is still out there clocking up the laps - he's four short of a century for the day.

  29. 1508: 

    Valtteri Bottas finishes an eight-lap run on the super-softs with a best of 1:31.187 which leaves him fifth fastest overall, 3.7 seconds off the pace.

  30. 1502: 

    Down come the times with Mark Webber going quickest by 1.6s on the second lap of what we think is a 10-lap run.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson in Barcelona:

    "The track is drying now and Felipe Massa is out on slick dry-weather tyres. The conditions are still a bit greasy for good lap times. The Mercedes, for example, is still on intermediate tyres and looks pretty good, but a bit stiff over the kerbs at the last chicane. In these conditions, through the last corner the Caterham is doing a very good job of imitating a Mark II Escort rally car - a total lack of rear grip on exit."

  32. 1458: 

    Slick tyres are definitely the rubber of choice at the moment. Sergio Perez has moved to the top of the timesheets with a 1:30.127, one second clear of Valtteri Bottas and a further half a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton.

  33. 1452: 
    Michael Schumacher

    James Holman suggests the 1991 green Jordan which Michael Schumacher made his debut in - and he's not the only one...


    Time for some more liveries chat...

    Paul from Notts: "I can't believe nobody has mentioned the classic yellow Coloni of '89 - what a great chassis that was!"

    Stuart Golding: "The most gorgeous car in terms of shape and simplicity as well as livery was the '89 Ferrari of Nigel Mansell. Just perfect and uncomplicated form from every angle."

    Simon, London: "What about the first time the McLaren revealed the chrome! Awesome and still there today."

    Tweet us using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only), remembering to put your name on it.

  35. 1445: 

    Felipe Massa is our new leader, clocking a 1:33.196 after 81 laps. That's three seconds quicker than Esteban Gutierrez with Valtteri Bottas third and Mark Webber fourth.

  36. 1440: 

    Valtteri Bottas has decided to ditch the inters and try on a set of slick tyres. Let's see how he gets on.


    Williams: "Bottas back in the garage for set-up changes - reports the track conditions are much better than this morning...tyres working much better."

  38. 1435: 

    Oh, I think a bit of a dry line is starting to appear. Hopefully that rain Williams are predicting can hold off for a bit longer so we could see some actual dry running.


    Williams: "Rain on the radar moving in.... possibly in about 15 minutes from the look of it..."

  40. 1430: 

    Red Bull's Mark Webber has chopped a chunk out of the previous best - 1.557 seconds to be precise - to go quickest of all. Valterri Bottas has dropped down to second ahead of Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson in Barcelona:

    "I'm watching out on the track and the Lotus looks good, with strong traction, whereas the Ferrari is struggling in that area. The Red Bull is still running with much more rake than the other cars - a higher rear ride height. The sun is out now so the track is drying. The cars are on intermediate tyres."

  42. 1420: 

    Felipe Massa, who is in the middle of a long run, improves on his last lap to move fourth, 1.575 seconds off the pace.

  43. 1415: 

    Times are starting to tumble bow as the sun finally fights its way through the clouds. Valtteri Bottas goes quickest, and is first man to dip under the 1m40s, clocking 1:39.844 to go 0.3 seconds clear of the field.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Sutil said he was optimistic about the season. 'It's not the best preparation,' he said. 'I will have just three test days, plus some work in the simulator, but I am just happy to get the chance. Seeing last week (in the second pre-season test) how quick I was, I surprised myself. I had a good feeling for the car. It is one of the best ones from Force India - very neutral balance. A good baseline to work on. We have to chase downforce. That's typical in F1. I still have a future here. I want to work, be in the front and be successful. I want to win races and the championship one day.'"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Adrian Sutil has been talking to the media in the wake of Force India confirming him as their second driver. He is looking on the bright side of his enforced absence from F1 following the incident in a Chinese nightclub for which he was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm. 'Those kind of situations you need sometimes to move forward in life,' he said. 'If everything is always easy you never make the big step. You need to fall down a bit. It was a difficult few months but I had good people around me who were always helping me. I just tried to live with the situation. It was a tough time, a hard experience but after a while I saw life goes on, also without racing. So I am feeling much better than before when I was racing.'"

  46. 1408: 

    The track is drying, but there's no dry racing line just yet. But the good news is there is plenty of action out on track with Hamilton, Massa, Vergne, Di Resta, Grosjean, Gutierrez and Pic out on track.

  47. 1403: 

    Finally, there's a change at the top of the timesheets - which is a sign that he conditions are improving - as Mark Webber smashes the previous best with a 1:40.152, 1.154 seconds quicker than anyone else.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "It seems Felipe Massa may have started a race simulation run for Ferrari. It obviously will not give a measure of the Ferrari's pace, as it is still wet out on the track but it will be valuable for the team, who have had some reliability concerns, especially where the exhaust interacts with the rear bodywork."

  49. 1358: 

    It's a bit busier out on track at the moment where inters are the order of the day. Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez and Max Chilton are all out and about.


    Daz in Derby: "Always liked the jet black Sauber from 94 a la Karl Wendlinger."

    Ben: "I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fantastic orange and black of the Arrows team!"

    Tim in Sheffield: "I think the bright yellow Minardi of 2000 was the pinnacle."

    I'd forgotten about the eyesore that was the 2000 Minardi that was driven by Marc Gene and Gaston Mazzacane

    Tweet us using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only), remembering to put your name on it.

  51. 1349: 

    Lewis Hamilton clocks a 1:46.084 which is around 4.5 seconds slower than he managed this morning. He brings that down to a 1:44.964 next time around which would suggest the conditions are slowly improving.

  52. 1342: 

    It's still pretty wet in Barcelona with temperatures hovering around the 8C mark. Chilly.


    Mike, via text: "They should have done this testing at Oulton Park! Lovely sunny day here in Cheshire."

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie in Barcelona:

    "The rain has eased off and cars are heading out on to the track. It's still very cold here, with a strong wind. But it has been an interesting morning with all the off-track developments, and I have another to add into the mix. In the wake of the obvious problems between Luiz Razia and Marussia, the rumour is that Heikki Kovalainen is having a seat fitting with Marussia tonight."

  55. 1336: 

    Paul di Resta completes his run on a set of inters and heads into the pits as Sergio Perez and Charles Pic head out in their McLaren and Caterham respectively.


    Force India reserve driver Jules Bianchi: "Thank you for your huge support! Let's keep pushing!"


    Mixed response to Force India's decision to sign Adrian Sutil.

    Andy Halliday: "Good decision by Force India to appoint Sutil. Gives the team a good balance of experience and youth. Maybe help with PDRs education?"

    Paul Hesketh: "Sutil may find it hard to swallow that the team has grown around Di Resta in his absence. I'd have looked forward and gone for Bianchi."

    Ben Ashcroft: "Not entirely sure on @clubforce choice of Sutil. Yes, he has experience, but hasn't he already had his chance? And failed to impress."

    Keep them coming. Tweet us using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only).

  58. 1327: 

    Mark Webber is clocking up the laps, as is Paul di Resta and Felipe Massa. Everyone else seems content to stay in their garages. Still no rain falling.

  59. 1324: 

    Aside from the driver issues, Marussia are also in the market for a new engine partner for 2014 with Cosworth set to pull out at the end of the season. With Renault supplying four teams it is unlikely they will want to stretch to five which would leave Mercedes and Ferrari as the only remaining options if no new companies join the fray.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Williams were the subject of one of the earliest pre-season technical controversies at the last test when they launched their car with an exhaust/bodywork design that other teams, and governing body the FIA, felt was illegal. The offending part - an almost-closed part of the 'Coanda' section of the bodywork rear of the exhaust exit - has been removed for this test.

    "But like most teams Williams have new parts coming later in the test. They are planning to run a new rear-end bodywork package on Friday. Toro Rosso has a new rear wing but the general opinion is that it's not worth running new bits until probably Saturday when the weather forecast is dry. That's for two reasons: 1) you want a baseline first and can't get one while it's wet; 2) You risk shunting and breaking the parts."

  61. 1318: 

    Story on Luzia Razia is live on the site. It seems he is in some form of financial dispute with Marussia. Several drivers, including Heikki Kovalainen, Jules Bianchi and even Timo Glock - who left the team last month before signing for BMW in the DTM championship, have been linked with the seat.

  62. 1314: 

    Sergio Perez is out on track with Paul di Resta while Charles Pic has just pulled out of the garage to join the fray in his Caterham.

  63. 1310: 

    The good news is the rain has stopped, the bad news is the track is still very wet and it may be some time before we see any change in the current standings.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "Mid-day break and still very wet. It is always difficult to get a wet track to run on that is consistent but from what I have seen so far that is exactly what we have today. Because of that most teams have been doing a reasonable amount of laps. We know from last year that we do get quite a few wet sessions over the course of the season so running in the wet and getting a wet set-up sorted out is as important as anything else. Also if there are any reliability issues then mileage wet or dry is important."

  65. 1304: 
    Mark Webber and Sergio Garcia

    It's not often that I get to use the celeb graphic during a test session - in fact, I don't think I've ever done so - but today is a first. For Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia has popped along to check out the action, spending the morning in the Red Bull garage and chatting to Mark Webber.

  66. 1300: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    The green flag is fluttering and we're away in Barcelona. Sergio Perez is keen, blasting out of the blocks first in his McLaren.

  67. 1258: 

    Testing gets going again in just under two minutes. Now would be a good time to let me know:

    1) What you think of Force India's decision to appoint Adrian Sutil as their second race driver 2) Any questions you would like answered by Andrew Benson 3) Your favourite F1 liveries.

    Text us on 81111 (UK only), remembering to put your name on those texts, or tweet us using the #bbcf1.

  68. 1257: 

    Sutil will be in the car tomorrow and Saturday with Paul di Resta back in action on Sunday.

  69. 1254: 

    More from Sutil: "Having been away from the sport, I'm even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula 1. Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I've never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit."

  70. 1252: 

    It will be Adrian Sutil's sixth season with the team - having races for them between 2007-2011. "I'm delighted to be back in Formula 1, especially with a team I know so well. I'm very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance."

  71. 1250: 

    Typical. I head off for a quick refuel and seconds after I hit enter on the keyboard, Force India finally announce that Adrian Sutil will return to the team, beating off competition from Jules Bianchi, to partner Paul di Resta.

  72. 1230: 

    This afternoon, we'll discuss more of your favourite F1 liveries, bring you the latest from Barcelona and invite your burning questions for our chief F1 writer Andrew Benson. See you in a bit.

  73. 1225: 

    In the meantime, here's Andrew Benson's lunchtime report on the action in Barcelona. Plus it's also worth giving BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson's piece on the current state of play. He says Red Bull's current form is confusing, Lewis Hamilton is underplaying Mercedes' pace and Ferrari showed genuine speed in Barcelona.

  74. 1220: 

    Sounds like a good plan Sergio. And on that note, I'm off for a quick spot of lunch - mozzarella and tomato quiche with a side of spinach if you're interested - before returning at 1250 GMT for the conclusion of today's running.


    McLaren's Sergio Perez: "And now... We stop for lunch, conditions have been very bad! (Lot of rain) Hopefully this afternoon we can do some good running."

  76. 1215: 

    Ahead of 5 live Formula 1's first show of 2013 at 1930 GMT, presenter James Allen has written a blog about his experiences on the McLaren Woking Technology Centre tour.

    "I've been to all of the F1 factories and I've visited MTC many times before, but this was truly special as I got to go into places that have always been "off limits" - such as the Simulator and the Operations Room and the Wind Tunnel," said Allen.

  77. 1210: 

    1) Hamilton 1:41.614 43 laps

    2) Massa 1:41.848 40 laps

    3) Vergne 1:42.155 38 laps

    4) Webber 1:43.649 44 laps

    5) Di Resta 1:44.444 33 laps

    6) Gutierrez 1:45.020 47 laps

    7) Grosjean 1:45.147 29 laps

    8) Bottas 1:47.457 44 laps

    9) Pic 1:47.521 31 laps

    10) Perez 1:48.562 23 laps

    11) Chilton 1:50.253 34 laps

  78. 1205: 

    Lewis Hamilton finished fastest of all with a best of 1:41.614 on inters from his 43 laps. Felipe Massa was 0.234 seconds off the pace in second with Jean-Eric Vergne third. Here's how they stand at lunch.

  79. 1200: 

    The rain is still hammering the Circuit de Catalunya as the chequered flag comes out for lunch.

  80. 1158: 
    Mauricio Gugelmin

    The Leyton House. What were they thinking when they came up with that turquoise livery? Remarkable. Here's Mauricio Gugelmin in, er, "action" at 1989 French Grand Prix.

  81. 1155: 

    A lot of love on the text and Twitter for the Brawn GP of 2009 which simply white with a black and fluorescent yellow stripe running through it.

    And the blue and white Williams cars of the early 1990s keep popping up, too, but perhaps my favourite which has been mentioned so far is....


    More of your favourite liveries...

    Alex in Stoke, via text: "Probably not stated yet but Damon Hill's blue and white arrows livery from 97 was always a good looking car, also liked the red and white Toyota livery."

    Harry Klamer: "Piquet's Brabham BMW from 1983 or 1985 fits in this list too in my opinion. This years Williams somehow reminds me of it!"

    John in Oldham, via text: "Best livery. Benetton B192. Still my favourite car of all time. John in Oldham."

    Tweet us using the #bbcf1 hashtag or by texting 81111 (UK only).

  83. 1149: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    And with a little over 10 minutes left before lunch, the track is green and we're back in business at the Circuit de Catalunya.

  84. 1145: 

    A cover has now gone over the Sauber and the car is being hoisted onto the back of a flat-bed truck. There doesn't appear to be too much damage and we should be back under way shortly.

  85. 1140: 

    It appears Esteban Gutierrez is the man to blame. The Mexican has bounced across the gravel and hit the barriers front on at Turn Three. Unsure how much, if any, damage there is.

  86. 1138: 

    We've got our second red flag of the day, folks...

  87. 1133: 

    Sergio Perez has been talking to our pit-lane report Lee McKenzie about his troubles setting up his new McLaren as well as answering some fan questions. Here's his video interview.

  88. 1129: 

    The rain continues to fall in Barcelona, with puddles of standing water forming. Only Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez out on track at the moment.

  89. 1122: 

    Lots of support for the red and white McLaren. A good call so to celebrate that fact, here's a shot of Ayrton Senna guiding his 1991 McLaren around the sweeping curves of his home turf - Interlagos. Those were the days.

    Ayrton Senna
  90. 1115: 

    Terry Wong: "Sauber's grey/black livery this year has become one of my favourites. A much better looking car than of previous years. Sleek."

    WJG: "What about the 'innovative' BAR of 1999? either one of the liveries would have been great. Unfortunately they went for both."

    Chris Simmonds: "My favourite has to be the Honda Earth-design livery. It looked simply stunning! Rubbish car mind you!"

    Tweet us using the #bbcf1 or text 81111 (UK only).

  91. 1109: 

    So now seems like another good time to pick out some of your favourite liveries - of which there are many...

  92. 1107: 

    Just as Lewis Hamilton and co were starting to bring the lap times down, the heavens have opened once more.

  93. 1102: 

    As eventful as testing has been this winter, it feels like there's something missing; ah yes, overtaking. But fear not, our acclaimed video team has neatly packaged up the best overtaking moves of 2012. Enjoy.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has claimed this could harm the form of Red Bull and Lotus, whose rear bodywork design he says works better with the exotic maps but less well than the other type of rear bodywork used by most other teams without them. But Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane told me: "Kimi (Raikkonen) used the new map once and hated it. Romain (Grosjean) tried it in the wet at the last test and finished up OK. So to suggest it will badly affect us is utter nonsense. In any case, the amounts (of performance gain) we're talking about are tiny."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Formula 1 wouldn't be Formula 1 without a tasty technical row and this year has already not disappointed on that front. At the last test there was a dispute about the exhaust designs on the Williams and Caterham, which the FIA has said it believes to be illegal. Ahead of this last test there has been a kerfuffle about engine mapping. Renault have tried some new engine maps that enhance the use of the exhausts for aerodynamic effect, by altering the amount of gases that can be blown on- and off-throttle. But the FIA has told them they are not allowed."

  96. 1055: 

    Just Jean-Eric Vergne, Mark Webber and Valtteri Bottas out on track with Lewis Hamilton at the moment.

  97. 1050: 

    Lewis Hamilton has been rewarded for relentlessly pounding round the Circuit de Catalunya with the fastest time of the day - a 1:41.614, which is 0.2 seconds quicker than anyone else.

  98. 1045: 

    There was good news for Maria de Villota on Thursday when she revealed she had been given permission to drive again for the first time since she lost her right eye when she crashed a Marussia during a test.

    "The distances I can already calculate quite well and it feels like nothing ever happened," said the 33-year-old Spaniard.

  99. 1038: 

    McLaren driver Jenson Button: "Utter rubbish. We all have timing screens and we all look at the times and we all look at what people are running in terms of tyres and we all try to guess what fuel they're on. I think it's sort of been the standard thing each winter, we all say we're concentrating on ourselves.

    "When we're doing set-up work, yes, we concentrate on ourselves, but when you're not doing that, you look at the timing screens. Because it is the way it is. At the moment you'd say the Mercedes looks very quick, the Red Bull difficult to read, the Ferrari looks very quick, the Lotus looks very quick. I think I understand their pace more than our pace at the moment! It's been an interesting couple of tests and as always third test we'll have more of a read."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "It has become a sort of badge of honour for F1 drivers and team bosses to say during testing that a) they don't know where their team stands and will not until the first race; and b) that they only concentrate on themselves and don't pay any attention to what their rivals are doing. Thank goodness for Jenson Button, then, who has been brave enough to admit what everyone already knew..."

  101. 1034: 

    1) Vergne 1:42.155 32 laps

    2) Hamilton 1:42.311 25 laps

    3) Massa 1:42.807 28 laps

    4) Webber 1:43.857 22 laps

    5) Di Resta 1:44.444 20 laps

    6) Gutierrez 1:45.931 35 laps

    7) Grosjean 1:45.995 14 laps

    8) Bottas 1:47.503 21 laps

    9) Pic 1:47.521 22 laps

    10) Perez 1:48.562 20 laps

    11) Chilton 1:50.252 27 laps

  102. 1026: 

    Lap times starting to come down now as the track dries out. Lewis Hamilton is slashing tenths of a second off each lap as he gets down into the low 1m42s and up into second fastest overall.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Ferrari have looked impressive so far in pre-season testing - they are clearly in much better shape than they were this time last year. But Felipe Massa says this final test is still "important" for the team. 'The car is still "green",' the Brazilian said. 'We need to make the car in good shape for the first race," he said. 'There's a lot of work and a lot to do. This is a very important moment for the people who work on the aerodynamics, the engine and the chassis. They have to get everything together in a good direction.'

    "Massa said that Ferrari would bring new parts to this test but that they may not be the definitive package that will be raced in Melbourne. One key focus will be their exhausts. They have had some problems with overheating rear bodywork which they will want to get sorted this week."

  104. 1020: 

    What a different a year makes. This time last year Ferrari were well off the pace and generally in a spot of bother. This year, they look to be in better shape, with Felipe Massa fastest of all last week in Barcelona.

  105. 1013: 

    The rain looks to be easing again, which means a switch from wets to inters could be imminent. Jean-Eric Vergne, our current pacesetter, is out kicking up the spray along with Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Max Chilton.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Adrian Sutil is expected to be confirmed as Force India's second driver in the near future and that deal rather suggests that they have agreed to stay with Mercedes engines into 2014 and beyond. There had been talk about Ferrari offering them a cheaper deal if Force India went with their engines next year, when the turbo efficiency formula starts. But that offer won't be there any more without their protégé Jules Bianchi in the car."

  107. 1003: 

    Lots of chat that Adrian Sutil, who was found guilty of assaulting Belgian Eric Lux, is returning to Formula 1 after a one-year hiatus. Here's Andrew with some insight...


    Williams: "We are ready in the garage and standing by... everyone out is on wets but the track is drying..."

  109. 1000: 

    Talking of Grosjean, he's set his first timed lap of the day - a 1:46.615 - which is good enough for seventh fastest overall, 4.5 seconds off the pace.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Lotus are currently cleaning up Romain Grosjean's car after what they jokingly called his 'spin simulation' this morning but when they do get some extended running in the dry - which does not look like soon as it has started raining again - they are planning to do some work fine-tuning their 'double DRS' system. That is an aerodynamic tweak they trialled last year that uses a 'fluidic switch' to change the direction of the airflow at a certain car velocity and stall the rear wing. Technical director James Allison has said they are still working on it and that it is 'fiendishly complicated' to get it working but that 'there is a tantalising gain to be had from it if you can make it work, a gain you would rather have than not have'. Other teams are looking at it, too."

  111. 0956: 

    Back to Barcelona where the sun is starting to break through the clouds again, but the track remains wet. Mark Webber, Esteban Gutierrez and Charles Pic are splashing around on track.

  112. 0949: 

    Maciek Zelewski has suggested the orange Spyker livery. Really? I mean, really? Sure Giancarlo Fisichella will have something to say about that. He got up close and personal with one of them in Japan in 2007. Step forward Sakon Yamamoto.

    Sakon Yamamoto

    Here are a few more of your favourite liveries...

    Peter Watts: "My fave is the 7UP green Jordan 191 - simple, classic livery and a beautiful design by Gary Anderson."

    Matt Cox: "Jaguar F1 from the early 2000's. beautiful. as well as almost any Ferrari ever."

    Mr P: "My favourite F1 livery, strangely, is the painfully simple white with flashes of fluorescent yellow and black of BrawnGP in 2009."

    Keep them coming - tweet using the #bbcf1 or text 81111 (UK only).

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "The test schedule printed by the Circuit de Catalunya for this week says that Brazilian Luiz Razia is supposed to be driving the Marussia today, but instead Max Chilton is in the car again - just as he was when Razia was supposed to drive in Barcelona last week.

    "The word is that all is not well between Marussia and Razia and that someone else might end up racing the car. But who? Marussia are looking for an engine supplier for 2014 so could taking on Jules Bianchi to ease the way to a Ferrari supply? Finn Heikki Kovalainen, dropped by Caterham last year, is a free agent but Marussia need a driver to bring money, which is why they turned to Razia in the first place."

  115. 0943: 

    Luiz Razia was supposed to be in the Marussia today, but that's obviously not the case because Max Chilton is in the cockpit. So what is going on at Marussia? Here's Andrew with more...

  116. 0940: 

    It's raining. A lot. Which means everyone - apart from Felipe Massa - is taking cover in the pit lane.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Among many mysteries of pre-season testing so far, McLaren's form is one of the biggest. The car has looked exceptionally quick on occasion but Jenson Button admitted at the second test that the team did not fully understand it. He told BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie this week:

    "'(This test is) really important for us. I'm sure everyone has new parts they're bringing which is the base of their Melbourne upgrade package but its more for us to get mileage on the car and really do some set-up work.

    "'We've probably missed out a little bit on set-up work because we have been trying to mileage some part and there were some new parts on the car we didn't quite understand and we did not, but that's cost us a bit of time. We need this test to turn up in Melbourne to be confident the car will run every lap of the race and be competitive.'"

  118. 0935: 

    Mark Webber has popped out for a run in his Red Bull, along with McLaren's Sergio Perez and Max Chilton in the Marussia.

  119. 0931: 

    Extreme wet tyres is the order of the day as the rain belts down in Barcelona. Bad news all round, especially for the 70-odd fans in the main grandstand. Now that's what I call dedication.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Word on the street is that all is not well between Marussia and Luiz Razia and that another driver may end up racing for them."

  121. 0926: 

    Everyone has set a time apart from Romain Grosjean who spun his Lotus off into the gravel earlier this morning. Meanwhile, it looks like the rain has started falling again which means the lap times have dropped off. Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Gutierrez still out there, though.

  122. 0920: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne is our new leader, clocking a 1:42.155 after 17 laps. Felipe Massa is second, 0.808 seconds off the pace with Mark Webber's Red Bull third.

  123. 0915: 
    Ralf Schumacher

    There's a fair few shouts for the brilliant yellow and black 1998 Jordan, modelled here by Ralf Schumacher. Wonder what he's up to these days, aside from plodding around the back of the field in DTM.


    Time for some of your favourite liveries:

    Ole Marthin: "The blue and yellow 2005-2006 Renault is my favourite livery."

    Steve: "Williams' Livery 94-97, Sheer Beauty and the best car in that period!"

    Richard G Geary: "Lotus 49 - Jim Clark, one of the best liveries - plain and simple."

    Keep them coming. Tweet us using the #bbcf1 or text 81111 (UK only)

  125. 0908: 

    It is still quite chilly, the circuit is damp but drying, there are 71 spectators in the main grandstand and a lone "Go Pedro Go" -- You'll Never Race Alone! banner, which cynics might say should read: "You'll never race at all..."

  126. 0903: 

    Paul di Resta has got his first time of the day on the board. His 1:44.057 is good enough for fourth, 1.7 seconds off the pace. Felipe Massa is the current pacesetter with 1:42.963, 0.096 seconds quicker than Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.

  127. 0900: 

    I'm hoping Caterham's weather sources are accurate because they have good news for the weekend. "Intermittent showers today with rain overnight and into tomorrow morning. But...Saturday and Sunday will be DRY!"

  128. 0858: 

    The rain continues to fall the Circuit de Catalunya, but that's not put off Lewis Hamilton - who only last week said it was a "risk" to run in the wet. He's pounding around the extreme wets.

  129. 0854: 
    Mario Andretti

    To kick us off, here's my favourite livery of all time - the 1977 Team Lotus machine - driven here by American F1 legend Mario Andretti. There's just something about that black and gold that sends tingles down my spine.

  130. 0850: 

    My colleague has just mentioned that he's a big fan of Caterham's metallic green and yellow livery this season - and I think he's got a point. But that got me thinking - what's your favourite livery of all time?

    Here's your chance to have your name up in lights. Tweet me using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only). As usual, I'll publish a selection of the best.

  131. 0845: 

    Mark Webber has gone fastest with a 1:44.057, 3.3 seconds quicker than the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and a further second clear of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes. Sergio Perez is the only other man to set a time in fourth.

  132. 0842: 

    For those of you wondering who will fill the last vacant seat on the grid with Force India, it looks like Adrian Sutil, 30, has beaten off competition with the team's reserve driver Jules Bianchi.

    Many of you will remember that Sutil drove for the team in their various guises between 2007 and 2011. Confirmation of the deal is expected at some point today.

  133. 0838: 

    And it was all going so well. Nevertheless, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Esteban Gutierrez are all out again.


    Williams: "Just as we thought it may had a chance of drying.... It's started to rain...Only light rain but heavier in turn 12 we are told."

  135. 0835: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Romain Grosjean's stricken Lotus has been cleared out of the way and we're good to go testing again...

  136. 0832: 

    Lotus see the funny side of Romain Grosjean's pirouette, tweeting: "Wet track spin simulation successfully completed @RGrosjean".

  137. 0827: 

    Romain Grosjean is the culprit. The Frenchman, who was essentially told by his team boss on Wednesday that he needs to stop crashing, hits a damp patch and goes spinning off into the gravel at Turn 12.

  138. 0823: 

    And moments later we have our first red flag of the day. Wonder how many times I'll be saying that today...

  139. 0820: 

    We have our first time of the day - it's a 1:51.434 - from Sergio Perez in the McLaren.

  140. 0817: 

    Just a head ups that Radio 5 live Sport will round up the day's testing in their first F1 programme of the new season, from 1930 GMT tonight. The show will feature a very special behind-the-scenes look at McLaren.


    Mercedes: "The guys have just been reminded "don't fire up during the national anthem". It's all about getting the little details right... ;)"

  142. 0813: 

    Mercedes report that they are carrying out a bit of race weekend preparation while they wait for the track to dry out. The track and air temperatures are hovering around the 8C mark.

  143. 0809: 

    Don't forget, teams only have one car at each of these tests, so they can only run one driver at a time. Most teams give each driver a whole day, but some - like Williams last week - choose to split the day in half.

  144. 0806: 

    Mark Webber is behind the wheel of the Red Bull, with Felipe Massa in the Ferrari hot seat. Sergio Perez has hold of the McLaren while Mercedes are running Lewis Hamilton.


    Marussia: "We have our new aero package for this test, but not for this day. Running the old spec initially for back to back work."

  146. 0803: 

    Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean and Valtteri Bottas head out on track for an installation lap. Order of the day is to check all the systems are working without hitting a puddle/damp patch and sticking the car in the barriers.

  147. 0800: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Fire up those engines, the lights have gone green and we're up and running in Barcelona. Let's make this a day to remember, chaps.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "There is one thing everyone has agreed on about Formula 1 this season - the first two tests have been very difficult to read. All the pundits - this one included - are hoping the next four days at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya will give a clearer picture of where all the teams stand ahead of the new season.

    "The teams will have to do race-simulation runs to prove their reliability, which makes pace easier to understand, and most will have major upgrades on the cars, which will either be exactly what they run in Australia next month or the foundation of it. A fascinating four days lies ahead."

  149. 0757: 

    The pit lane will be open for business at 0800, but following overnight rain, the track is littered with damp patch. The good news is that the sun is starting to fight its way through the clouds, though, so there's hope of some conditions for useful running yet.

  150. 0755: 

    Hello and a very warm welcome to the first day of the final pre-season test. I say warm because it's raincoats, gloves and woolly hats weather at Barcelona's majestic Circuit de Catalunya. Bet the boys and girls of the F1 paddock can't wait to jump aboard a plane bound for Melbourne in a couple of weeks time.

  151. 0750: 

    Just four days of testing - and a fraught couple of weeks of final preparation - stand between you, me and the whole Formula 1 fraternity and the start of the 2013 season. So what are we waiting for? Helmet on and buckle up tight. It's time to go testing.

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