Just days after the 2013 Formula 1 season officially got under way, its training ground, Formula Renault 3.5 concluded its winter test in Barcelona.
Returning to the historic Circuit de Catalunya, the changing weather temperaments created an additional challenge for the teams and drivers. Following showers in the Spanish city, many teams chose to practice pit stops on the first day, a decision that hope will help them scrape tenths of a second off their overall race time.
It was the Swiss, Nico Muller, who negotiated the damp conditions on the first day. His time in the car, however, was brief as a mistake brought his testing campaign to a halt.
The fastest time of the first day was set by Portuguese, Antonio Felix da Costa, who many see as a future driver at Formula 1 team, Toro Rosso. His time, a 1:28.935 was enough to break his own record for the fastest pole position lap in 2012. This would remain the only time under 1:29.00.
By the second day, conditions had improved, affording Will Stevens the opportunity to outpace title contenders, Felix da Costa and Briton, Kevin Magnussen, as the weather began to improve at the conclusion of the pre-season test.
The drier conditions also helped the Fortec Motorsports, Belgian, Stoffel Vandoorne and Britain’s Oliver Webb who posted times of 1:30.156 and 1:30.249 respectively to remain in the top ten. Fortec were the only team who opted not to run in the afternoon, saving them a set of tyres.
“I wasn’t looking for performance” Vandoorne admitted. Instead the young Belgian, who is the reigning Formula 2.0 champion, was focused on familiarising himself with the circuit in preparation for his début race in Monza.
Zeta Corse are expected to announce their new driver line up in a matter of days as the teams prepare for the first race of the season in the Italian city in April.
During the test, no team was dominant suggesting that a closely fought battle could be on the cards. As a direct feeder series to Formula 1, each racing driver will hope they can do enough throughout the season to warrant a place in the sports pinnacle.
I will have Oli Webb’s thoughts on the test and much more soon! The subject of testing should feature heavily in his next column for ‘stoodonthepodium’.
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