After Jenson Button had stunned the Formula 1 paddock on Wednesday, it was team-mate Rubens Barrichello's turn to upset the established order on Thursday in Barcelona, as the experienced Brazilian maintained Brawn GP's extraordinary dominance of the final fully-attended group test of the winter.
In taking a further two tenths off the British star's effort from the previous day, Barrichello placed himself almost a full second clear of any of his rivals on day four, as he brought the ex-Honda outfit's week at the Circuit de Catalunya to a more-than-satisfactory conclusion.
Though delayed by initial heavy fog causing poor visibility in the morning, the São Paulista was soon able to get down to completing a full 66-lap race distance with pit-stops and using both compounds of the Bridgestone Potenza slick tyres available, encountering no reliability woes along the way.
Once again the new, Mercedes-powered BGP001 proved capable of setting consistently competitive lap times both over a longer run and in 'qualifying simulation' format in the afternoon – leaving the team to head into its last three days of pre-Australian Grand Prix testing at Jerez next week with its tail well-and-truly up.
“I'm very pleased with the mileage that we have achieved today,” commented Barrichello, “and the completion of another full race distance. The qualifying exercises were also very useful in enabling the team and I to get fully up-to-speed and ready for Melbourne. The car has proved fast and reliable throughout the week, so we go to Jerez feeling positive and pleased with the results of our first test outing.”
“We are extremely pleased with the inaugural test of the BGP 001 car in Barcelona this week,” agreed new team owner Ross Brawn. “The team made a very late start to our pre-season testing programme, with only seven days in which to run the car before the first race in Melbourne; therefore our focus has been on reliability and achieving as much mileage as possible. Both of these aims have been successfully achieved this week.
“That the car has run so reliably 'out-of-the-box' is a tribute to the strong team that we have at our factory in Brackley, and they have done a great job during a very difficult period. The car is performing to our expectations and the feedback from Jenson and Rubens has been positive, with both drivers completing full race distances. We have three further days of testing in Jerez next week to complete our preparations for the first race, and I look forward to seeing how the car progresses from here.”
Second-fastest at the close of the day was the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg, who conducted set-up work and aerodynamic and reliability checks aboard the FW31, taking his personal testing total to 972 kilometres for the week and the team's to just shy of 1,800 kilometres.
“We've put in a lot of laps this week and have definitely made good progress,” affirmed the young German. “Our schedule has mainly focussed on mechanical and aero testing, of which there was lots to learn because there are so many new concepts and designs this year. It's difficult to judge where everyone is because the times are quite close, but we have one more test next week which will be an advantage.”