New Williams F1 2010 recruit Nico Hülkenberg denied Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso the pleasure of finishing his final pre-season test day on home turf in Barcelona on top of the pile – by outpacing the Spaniard by a scant two hundredths of a second to lead the way at the end of day two around the Circuit de Catalunya.
As the sun shone, the wind blew and the lap times tumbled from the opening day, Hülkenberg focussed his efforts on aerodynamic evaluation, starts practice and set-up work aboard his Cosworth-powered FW32, and professed himself encouraged by progress on his last day in the car before the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir in just under a fortnight's time.
“We've had a good test here,” the young German confirmed. “P1 today is nice but means nothing, to be honest – we're not in Bahrain yet! It's positive for the team, and for me, to know what the car can do, though. We did a lot of set-up work today and have found some interesting things, so I feel ready and confident to go to Bahrain now.”
“Nico finished his last day of winter testing today with a good run of laps,” corroborated the Grove-based outfit's technical director Sam Michael. “Our programme included the evaluation of a new sidepod, starts practice and some additional work on the set-up of the FW32. We're making progress, but there's still plenty to do.”
Alonso, for his part, similarly concentrated on set-up work and an assessment of new aerodynamic components for the Scuderia's
F10, as well as a successful race simulation over the course of his 133 laps inside the cockpit of the potent scarlet machine in front of thousands of partisan supporters. The Oviedo native will hand over for the last two days to team-mate Felipe Massa.
Third-quickest was veteran returnee Pedro de la Rosa in the Sauber-Ferrari C29, with the 'other' Spaniard conducting a simulation of free practice, qualifying and a race distance all in the course of a single busy day and encountering no technical issues.
“Today was a very good preparation for the season's start in Bahrain,” underlined the just-turned 39-year-old, who will relinquish driving duties to young team-mate Kamui Kobayashi for Saturday and Sunday. “The reliability of the car was perfect and I think the performance was also good, especially in the race simulation.
“It was a very good exercise, and I feel we have now done everything possible to get ready for the first grand prix. It was also a big day for me, because it has been a while since I last completed a race distance. I feel very well and also really confident now.”
“Overall it was a good test day for us,” concurred the Hinwil-based concern's technical director Willy Rampf. “We improved the car's balance significantly compared to yesterday by doing some set-up changes. We then simulated an entire race weekend with free practice, qualifying and a full race distance without any technical problems. We are quite happy with the overall pace and reliability.”