Wednesday morning at the Barcelona started much as the previous day had - with even heavier rain falling on the Circuit de Catalunya, thwarting the hopes of the GP2 team and drivers to get a swift start to their penultimate day of pre-season testing ahead of start of the 2013 campaign in a little over two weeks time.
Two new faces were among the drivers taking shelter from the weather in the pit lane garages. Switzerland's Christopher Zanella had taken over from Luciano Bachetta in the Russian Time car alongside Tom Dillmann, and Italian driver Riccardo Agostini had stepped into the Hilmer Motorsport car previous occupied by Pal Varhaug.
Both of the rookie teams are yet to confirm any of their drivers for the upcoming season. 23-year-old Zanella has just completed two successful seasons in Formula Two, finishing as runner-up in the 2011 championship and third place in 2012; while 18-year-old Agostini won titles in both the Italian Formula Three European Series and the Formula Three Italian Series with JD Motorsport.
Neither of the new boys went out early on in the worst of the conditions, however: only five drivers set times in the first hour including ART's James Calado, Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer, MP Motorsport's Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Rapax driver Stefano Coletti, who was also the first driver to cause a brief red flag when he came to a stop at turn 9 after 45 minutes.
Daniel Abt triggered the second red two hours into the session when he ran off at turn 4 and clipped the barrier. His ART team mate Calado was comfortably topping the timing screens at this point ahead of Carlin's Felipe Nasr, Venezuela GP Lazarus's Rene Binder, Abt, Dillmann and the remaining Carlin driver Marcus Ericsson. Most of the field - including the two new faces - had at least set a time by this point, although Trident Racing pair Robin Frijns and Rodolfo Gonzalez together with Hilmer Motorport's Conor Daly were still keeping their powder dry in the garage.
Daly had managed to set a time by the point the next red flag came out 15 minutes before the end of the morning session, caused by Johnny Cecotto Jr.'s Arden going wide and stopping at the exit of turn 4. There were only two minutes remaining in the session when the track reopened, so there was no time for anyone to knock Colado off the top of the time sheets and the British driver led his second wet morning session in a row, today with a time of 1:50.218s set very early in the session.
A two hour lunch break left the teams praying for dryer conditions in the afternoon. They were rewarded with a break in the rain and even a hint of blue skies, but the track itself was still far too wet for slick tyres when running resumed. Most of the drivers got into their cars and headed off to make the best of it, with Agostini having the dubious honour of causing his first red flag in GP2 when he stopped at turn 4 less than 15 minutes into the session.
There was a second caution just after the one-hour mark, this time for Julian Leal going off the track and beaching himself in a sodden gravel trap. As the afternoon session reached the halfway point Adrian Quaife-Hobbs was on top of the times after a lap of 1:53.243s putting him 0.171s ahead of Simon Trummer in the Rapax and just over two tenths faster than Nasr in the Carlin, but more significantly the rain had started falling again putting paid to any hopes that the teams might have had of getting a dry line going.
Rene Binder marked the onset of the final hour by going wide and running off at turn 7 to bring out the next red flag, and 40 minutes later it was Abt stopping at turn 4 that caused the final red flag of the day leaving ten minutes of time on the clock once the track re-opened. Around the stoppages, Johnny Cecotto Jr. put in his best lap of the session with a time of 1:52.781s just a tenth faster than the improving James Calado and Felipe Nasr, with Venezuela GP Lazarus's Kevin Giovesi also finding some speed late in the day to move into fourth in front of Quaife-Hobbs.
The final day of pre-season testing will start on Thursday morning at 9am local time, and the forecasts are looking optimistic for some dry running at last. It will be the last track opportunity for teams before the first weekend of the 2013 season at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on March 22-24.
See full Tuesday test times
See full Wednesday test times
Barcelona test line-up - Wednesday
- Marcus Ericsson, Stéphane Richelmi
ART GP (formerly Lotus GP)
- James Calado, Daniel Abt
- Johnny Cecotto Jr., Mitch Evans
- Julian Leal, Fabio Leimer
- Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer
- Christopher Zanella *, Tom Dillmann *
- Sergio Canamasas *, Ma Qing Hua
- Jake Rosenzweig, Rio Haryanto
- Stefano Coletti, Simon Trummer
- Robin Frijns *, Rodolfo Gonzalez *
- Conor Daly *, Riccardo Agostini *,
Venezuela GP Lazarus
- Rene Binder, Kevin Giovesi *
- Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Daniël de Jong
* denotes currently only confirmed for Barcelona test