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LIVE COMMENTARY: BARCELONA THIRD PRE-SEASON TEST - TEST DAY FOUR
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Test day four
By Geoff Creighton, Pablo Elizalde and Steven English
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
07:58 Hello and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for our minute-by-minute coverage of the final day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

07:59 It's a bright and sunny morning at the circuit on the outskirts of Barcelona, but a little chilly with an air temperature of 5.6 degrees.

08:00 The green flag is out and the session is underway.

08:01 Trulli in the Lotus is the first man out today.

08:03 D'Ambrosio has taken over driving the Virgin and brings it back into the pits after an installation lap.

08:03 Perez, Sutil and Webber also head around for installation laps.

08:05 Schumacher has taken over the Mercedes from team-mate Rosberg and returns to the pit after an installation tour.

08:07 Massa completes a lap in his Ferrari, with Hamilton doing the same in the McLaren.

08:08 Buemi returns to the Toro Rosso garage after a single lap in the STR6.

08:10 The track is empty for the moment as the teams check over the cars following the installation laps.

08:11 As ever, you can send in your questions for the AUTOSPORT team here at the circuit. Email live@autosport.com and we'll answer as many as we can.

Paul Hembery08:15 Today's special guest is Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery.

Tyres are going to be one of the major factors this year, so send us your questions for Paul and we'll put the best to him this afternoon.

08:16 Sound of an engine from the far end of the pitlane ... It's Sutil in the Force India heading out for his second lap of the day.

08:17 Just a single lap and Sutil heads back to the Force India garage.

08:20 AUTOSPORT.com's @TeamAnglais is off for a wander down the pitlane with the snappers from @suttonimages.

08:22 Some of our colleagues from @latphotographic have taken up position on the race control building directly opposite the commentary box.

08:22 Should be a good view from there as Hamilton heads out in his McLaren.

08:24 Hamilton is on to the first timed lap of the morning. Webber is also back on track in his Red Bull.

08:25 It's a 1m31.487s lap from Hamilton to start the timesheet this morning.

08:28 With Ferrari and Red Bull continuously getting reliable long-runs from their 2011 challengers, McLaren is hoping it can soon win the battle for reliability with the MP4-26.

08:30 Despite completing 90 laps yesterday, most of Hamilton's runs were short or disrupted. Here's what he had to say after the session ended:

Hamilton: Rivals' mileage 'incredible'

08:31 Webber has returned to the Red Bull garage, but Perez in the Sauber is now out and starting a flying lap.

08:34 Down in the pits, AUTOSPORT.com's @TeamAnglais reports there is little sign of activity at Renault, with the R31 not set to go out just yet

08:35 Perez clocks a 1m33.490s as his first time of the day before returning to the Sauber garage.

08:36 Schumacher and Trulli blast past to start timed runs.

08:36 Massa is just getting going in his Ferrari as well, clocking a 1m29.542s as his first time of the day.

08:38 L10 is the pitboard message hung out for Massa, so it's a reasonably long run to kick off the day for Ferrari.

D'Ambrosio08:41 D'Ambrosio is again conducting constant speed aerodynamic tests along the pit straight.

Without a wind tunnel, the Virgin team needs all the data it can get to validate the CFD work that has produced the MVR-02.

08:42 Hamilton is back out in his McLaren.

08:43 Schumacher has pitted the Mercedes after going second quickest in the early times.

08:43 Massa has six laps remaining on his long run and is third fastest so far this morning.

08:45 The early morning mist is burning away, leaving conditions bright and sunny here at the Circuit de Catalunya.

08:47 Sutil pops up to second quickest with a 1m27.618s in the Force India.

08:49 Buemi is on a five-lap run and now fifth fastest in 1m28.466s.

08:50 Massa pits after a nine-lap run, with some varied times in the 1m28 and 1m29s region.

08:55 Schumacher, Trulli and D'Ambrosio are on track at the moment.

08:57 Heidfeld is finally out for an installation lap in the Renault.

09:00 Schumacher returns to the Mercedes pit and is wheeled back into the garage.

09:04 Perez sets his best time of the day to go sixth fastest in 1m29.306s.

Hamilton09:05 Hamilton's early 1m27.561s in the McLaren remains quickest after the first hour.

09:07 But Perez tops that now with a 1m26.914s in his Sauber.

09:09 Rosberg set the fastest time of this test so far, a 1m23.168s, on a short run late in the session yesterday afternoon.

09:12 Massa is on a spell of practice starts in his Ferrari, passing through the pitlane before stopping launching off down at the far end.

09:14 D'Ambrosio clocks his best time of the morning, having been on aerodyamic test runs earlier.

09:16 There's no sign of Maldonado in the Williams, which is in the garage with a problem, as @WilliamsF1Team explains: "Team currently fixing a KERS water pump failure but should be out in an hour or so"

09:18 Red Bull are in no hurry to get Mark Webber out again. The RB7 is up on jack stands with very little activity around the car for the moment

09:18 The red flag is out.

09:19 Trulli in the Lotus is in the gravel at Campsa.

09:20 The front wing and left wheel are smashed on the T128, which is has clattered the tyre wall.

09:20 Trulli has climbed out and is unhurt.

09:22 Recovery trucks are at the scene, with the crane being readied to lift the Lotus out of the gravel.

SEAT09:22 Race Control's red SEAT people carrier is there to collect Trulli himself and bring him back to the pits.

09:24 It looks like the Lotus mechanics will have quite a bit of work to do to get Trulli back out later today.

09:27 The Lotus is now on the back of the recovery truck.

09:28 From the tracks in the gravel it looks like Trulli has veered off at the apex of Campsa and clattered the wall with the left side of the car

09:30 The left front corner has taken most of the impact and looks particularly damaged as the T128 slowly tours back to the pits on the truck.

09:31 The marshals are happy with the tyre barrier, so we'll get the green flag as soon as the truck makes it to the pits.

09:33 The track is open once again.

09:34 Hamilton in the McLaren is first out.

09:35 Perez joins in with the Sauber.

09:36 They are the only two drivers on track at the moment.

09:40 Buemi joins the track in his Toro Rosso and immediately tops the early running with a 1m26.241s lap.

09:40 D'Ambrosio and Massa are also out.

09:44 Massa moves up to second fastest with a 1m26.281s lap.

Ricciardo09:46 Yesterday we put your AUTOSPORT Live questions to Toro Rosso test driver Daniel Ricciardo, who had some interesting things to say.

Pirelli's Paul Hembery will be our special guest today, so keep your tyre queries coming to live@autosport.com.

09:47 Massa heads to the Ferrari garage, leaving Schumacher and D'Ambrosio circulating.

09:49 After over an hour in the garage, Webber heads out in the Red Bull.

09:51 Schumacher has pitted, but Sutil is now on track in the Force India.

09:54 It's all gone quiet, which means the red flag is out agian.

09:54 D'Ambrosio has stopped at the pit exit in his Virgin.

09:55 The car is being pushed back into the pitlane by Virgin mechanics, meaning this will be a very short interruption.

09:55 D'Ambrosio's MVR-02 is back in the garage and the green is out again.

09:58 The timing screen now says 'dressed oil between Turns 8 and 9 reported' - suggesting that a problem with Trulli's Lotus could have been the cause of his earlier off at Turn 9.

10:00 Buemi is the only man to head out immediately after the red flag.

10:01 Buemi improves the benchmark time to a 1m23.806s.

Tyres10:04 Palla Sundeep asks: I am seeing a lot of cars start at 1m25s then as a laps are increasing the time is increasing, which I haven't seen with Bridgestone. Can you explain what is the reason behind this?

AUTOSPORT.com features editor @TeamAnglais says:

We're used to watching laptimes come down over a stint because as the fuel loads decrease the car gets lighter and faster. This was able to happen because the Bridgestone tyres were hard enough to withstand the strain of a heavy car and still produce a similar level of grip after several laps.

Now, the Pirelli tyres are much softer and degrade faster. That's what we wanted to provide more entertaining racing. But a side-effect of that is that the tyres have a steep drop-off in grip and times after the first few laps, so the best times are being done at the beginning of stints in spite of a heavier fuel load.

It's worth remembering though that we haven't seen very many full tank race simulation runs. It's a lot easier to do faster times at the beginning of a stint with only 10 laps of fuel on board as opposed to 60. We might see that pattern level out a bit as race fuel loads are added.

10:05 Massa improves his best with a 1m25.676s effort.

10:07 Webber is also back out in the Red Bull and sets his first significant lap of the day with a 1m26.883s to go fourth fastest.

10:08 Sutil goes second fastest with a 1m25.299s.

10:09 Trulli was indeed helped off the road by his Lotus, as confirmed by @MikeGascoyne: "Shunt for Jarno caused by car failure, not his fault. Going to be difficult to get back out today"

10:10 Maldonado is finally out in his Williams after an earlier problem with the KERS water pump.

10:13 The FW33 is passing the pits slowly to collect some data for the early laps, so Maldonado joins the times with a 2m08.461s.

10:16 Webber has pitted his Red Bull, leaving Hamilton and Schumacher on track now.

Schumacher10:20 Someone who didn't tell us their name asked: Mercedes was the first team to let go of development in 2010 and concentrate on the 2011 car very early. Yet they are floating for an aero upgrade in Bahrain. Why is that? Are they trying to hide something from the others until the last minute, or they are just painfully slow?

AUTOSPORT F1 editor @eddstrawF1 says:

They definitely aren't hiding anything. The car looks pretty bad on track – lacking front end grip and forcing the drivers to work hard to get it to do what they want, which is never a good way to carry speed through corners.

The car seems to be something of the order of 1.5 seconds off the pace, which is definitely a big problem. Ross Brawn has said that the plan was to launch a "plain" car for the start of testing and then do a big upgrade for Bahrain, but you can be sure that the plan wasn't to run a car with such plain performance.

The team has been switching between two versions of its front wing – one with two slots cut in the main element – suggesting aero problems. Our technical consultant, Gary Anderson, firmly believes that a two-element front wing is more unstable than a three-element one, and it's possible that this is to deal with airflow separation problems.

Nico Rosberg was at his fastest running this wing yesterday, so we will probably see a new front wing based on that concept. There will also be new exhausts – Brawn has promised an innovative design – as well as other aerodynamic revisions. Although it would be an exaggeration to call it a B-spec car, this will be a major package and bolting it on at the eve of the first race is not something you would do in an ideal world, as it will change the characteristics of the car. Also, new exhausts can lead to overheating problems.

This is not the kind of schedule you would design, unless forced to by circumstances, so the team has a lot of work to do.

10:22 For those sending in questions to live@autosport.com for Pirelli boss Paul Hembery, he's already said they won't reveal how the different compounds will be identified until the first grand prix, and he also can't talk about how any individual teams are struggling or flourishing compared to the others.

Just to save you wasting questions he won't answer...

10:23 Buemi, Perez, Hamilton and Maldonado are lapping at the moment.

10:24 Massa joins them in his Ferrari.

10:24 Hamilton is on his sixth run of the day, but all have been short so far at three to four laps.

10:25 However his pitboard indicates 10 laps to go, so this looks like Hamilton's first long run attempt of the day.

10:26 Meanwhile, Buemi improves the leading time once again with a 1m23.550s. Sutil also goes quicker but remains second fastest.

10:27 Maldonado gets his day properly underway with a 1m26.635s in his Williams to go fifth fastest.

10:29 Buemi brings his Toro Rosso in after three flying laps. It has been a series of short runs for the Swiss so far this morning.

10:32 Massa is on a longer run in the Ferrari, he's four laps in doing a 1m27.849s and plans another six.

10:33 Still five laps left of Hamilton's long run as well. After 10 laps, he's still consistently lapping in the 1m31s bracket.

10:34 Former AUTOSPORT editor Andy Hallbery says: Instead of asking if people are watching Live on boats or up mountains, ask how many are at work pretending to be busy, and what lengths they're going to to cover it up!

Well, we always want to hear about people following us from boats, mountains and other unique locations, but that's still a good idea. Who is hiding us from their boss? And how?

10:35 It's only Hamilton and Massa going around at the moment, with just a few seconds between the pair on track.

Perez10:36 Perez joins in with his Sauber.

10:40 Hamilton brings his long run to a close. That's 44 much-needed laps already today for McLaren - the most of anyone so far.

10:41 Massa also completes his run, leaving Perez and Schumacher on track.

10:43 Simon Benedict says: Dear Live team, has AUTOSPORT considered buying you a new laptop? That sticker-festooned old Dell being used by Daniel Ricciardo belongs in a museum! Keep up the good work!

AUTOSPORT.com features editor @TeamAnglais says:

Haha, I'll have you know this little beauty has been serving me admirably since the pre-season of 2008. It's been everywhere from Pembrey and Croft to Sepang and Surfers Paradise. Sure, it overheats anywhere warmer than Silverstone in February, scorches my palms as I type, and there hasn't been a button on the L key since Le Mans 2009, but it gets the job done!

10:46 Maldonado is back on track in his Williams.

10:50 Nice sunny day at the circuit after the early mist has cleared. We can see all the way to the hills in the far distance from our commentary box up in the roof of the main grandstand.

10:51 The track temperature is now 25.6 degrees and climbing.

10:52 Maldonado pits, leaving Schumacher as the only man on track.

10:53 The German is eight laps into a run, which started in the low 1m27s and ends with a 1m29.458s, just before he pitted.

10:54 The track falls briefly silent, before Webber's Red Bull is fired up and he heads off down the pitlane.

10:57 Webber kicks off his outing with the fastest time of the day so far - 1m23.442s.

11:00 Webber heads back in the pits again after a second flying lap of 1m24.314s.

11:00 That leaves the track empty for now.

11:01 Hamilton breaks the silence and heads out in the McLaren.

11:03 Buemi, Massa, Maldonado and Schumacher now set off as well.

11:06 Maldonado completes his fastest lap of the day, a 1m25.297s, to move up to fourth

Pastor Maldonado11:08 The Venezuelan is just a tenth slower on the second lap of his run

11:10 Sutil is back on track, joining Maldonado, Massa, Schumacher, Hamilton and Buemi

11:12 Hamilton has so far completed the most laps today, 50, so he could be on track for significant running, which is what he said he wanted yesterday

11:13 As pace-setter Webber heads out of the pits

11:13 Maldonado has stopped after a four-lap run, averaging 1m25.781s

11:14 Sutil is also back in the pits after two laps in the 1m26s

11:16 Seven-lap stint for Schumacher at the moment, his times dropping consistently on each round around the track

11:17 We are trying to find out what is going on at Renault and HRT, who have gone very quiet

11:18 Two installation laps from Heidfeld so far, with no time set

11:18 Maldonado has returned to the track to complete his best lap of the day: 1m24.745s

11:19 And here's an update from Renault, @OfficialLRGP: There is an issue with the KERS, which the team is trying to resolve. Hopefully Nick will get out before lunch.

11:20 While Kovalainen gives his views on his team-mate's accident: Jarno had shunt this morning, car failure caught him out in T9 in Barcelona, same corner I shunted 2008, not nice place to go off!

11:22 Massa has completed a ten-lap run averaging 1m28.706s, while Schumacher is also back in the garage after eight laps with an average of 1m28.529s

11:23 Only Maldonado and Hamilton are left on track

11:24 Hamilton is on the 13th lap on his run, which he must be doing with a heavy load of fuel on board, because he is running in the 1m34s

11:25 Heidfeld finally rejoins the track following his problems with KERS

Lewis Hamilton11:26 Hamilton has now completed his run: Thirteen timed laps with an average of 1m32.575s

11:28 The day at Lotus is over following Trulli's crash. The team is missing a part and so will not be able to run anymore today

11:30 Heidfeld is up to sixth with a 1m26.700s

11:32 Maldonado continues to improve and now jumps up to third with a 1m24.057s

11:34 Lap count so far: Webber 24, Buemi 43, Maldonado 33, Sutil 29, Massa 52, Heidfeld 7, Perez 42, Schumacher 44, Hamilton 59, Trulli 18, D'Ambrosio 27

11:35 Massa improves to a 1m24.929s

11:35 As for HRT, the team has left the circuit, so it's little wonder its car is not running....

11:38 Heidfeld is trying to maximise his track time before the lunch break. The Renault driver has now completed seven consecutive timed laps

11:39 And as we write that, he returns to the pits, averaging 1m26.981s over the seven timed laps

Michael Schumacher11:41 Adam Sawell says: Sitting on the sofa in Melbourne impatiently waiting for the last weekend in March. Your report on Mercedes depressed me - I'm trying to pick my fantasy GP team based on testing so far. Lotus, Toro Rosso and Sauber look promising. I was also going to select Michael Schumacher, but if things are really that bad at Mercedes...

So what would be your fantasy GP combination if you had to pick your team now?

AUTOSPORT F1 editor @eddstrawF1 says: You're the first person to raise the very important question of fantasy Formula 1 – although based on my performance in Fantasy NASCAR in last night's Daytona 500, I might not be the best person to ask. Obviously the way the fantasy game you are competing in is structured will play a big part in who you choose, but hopefully I can give you a few pointers...

Looking at your question, it seems you're mainly pondering what might be termed the good value picks. Lotus, I'm a little concerned about, because the team has had quite a few problems despite occasionally showing some good pace - and the lack of KERS could do them a lot of harm come race starts. That said, I'm confident the team will be in the mid-pack this year so they could be good value, especially with a stronger driver line-up than the likes of Toro Rosso and Sauber. Both of those look well-balanced, consistent and brisk enough cars, meaning that both could improve on their 2010 performance.

As for Michael Schumacher, I'd be very cautious. Value-wise, he would probably be a great pick if the car is good, but you're on shaky ground given that, right now, it's well off the pace. The car will have changed hugely by the first race, so if you're confident in the team, go for it. But I would suggest as an alternative Rubens Barrichello. The Williams FW33 looks great on track and the way that the rear is packaged is absolutely incredible. There's an air of quiet confidence, and in Rubens you have a driver that you can guarantee will deliver the goods and improve the car – not to mention adapt well to the tyres.

By way of a disclaimer, it's still early days, so I'd leave locking in your team as late as possible, but I'd certainly say that all things considered, the Williams/Rubens combo will probably offer pretty good value.

11:42 Just Buemi out, with less than 20 minutes left before lunch

11:43 Perez joins him in the Sauber

11:45 You can now read about Lotus's early finish:

Trulli's crash ends Lotus test early

11:48 Six drivers out on track as we are about to enter the final ten minutes of the morning session

11:50 Hamilton and Massa look set to go over the 60-lap mark this morning. While another Mark, Webber, has managed just 26, but still sits on top of the times

11:50 Oh his 13th lap, Heidfeld improves to a 1m26.203s, around four tenths better than his previous best

11:52 Webber has driven his Red Bull back onto the track

11:52 As Hamilton moves from ninth to sixth with a lap of 1m25.094s. His 61st of the day

11:54 The quickest time of the four days of testing so far is a 1m23.168s, set by Rosberg yesterday

11:55 Final five minutes of the morning session

11:57 Hamilton has returned to the pits, and so has Webber. There are still six cars on track though

11:58 Massa equals Hamilton's tally of 63 laps

12:00 Massa, Hamilton and Heidfeld will be the last men to return to the pits to begin the lunch break

12:01 The chequered flag is out

12:02 Both Hamilton and Massa will end the morning with 66 laps each, well on course for the 100-lap mark

12:03 Heidfeld is the last man back in the pits after 21 laps. His morning was not as productive as he would have wanted, with a KERS problem hitting his Renault R31

Mark Webber12:03 Webber, with 29 laps completed, finishes the morning session on top

12:04 But before we leave for the lunch break...

12:04 On the subject of people watching us in secret at work:

Tim Ceuppens says: "I just have you guys up on my second screen. Being self-employed, I'm going to give myself a stern talking to when the test is over."

I should think so too, Tim. Good idea to wait until the end of the day. You wouldn't want to damage morale and reduce productivity.

As for cover-ups, there seems to be a lot of Alt+Tab'ing going on. We've had lots of anonymous emails so people obviously fear their boss is watching too.

One says: "Toggling between screens is a trifling hot-key sequence to hide the evidence. Who'd have thought we could get so hooked on what is effectively a modern-day CEEFAX update service!"

We'll try to take that as a compliment, cheers!

Hannah Fitzpatrick says: "Testing has been while I'm at sixth form so I've had to get the commentary up on my phone and hide it in my folder. Every other minute I open and take a look, I'm getting pretty good at it now!"

Cunning.

Anna in Poland says: "I've been hiding you at work all the time! It's not easy as my boss sits right behind me and can see my computer any time he wishes. I take a look every time he leaves the room, but sometimes even when he's still in if I'm too curious. It's getting dangerous."

Brave.

Nipam Shah in India says: "I am 14 and my mom thinks I am doing my homework!"

Don't blame us when you get caught!

Aramis Cano in South Africa says: "I'm a technical manager and I use the excuse that I'm monitoring international bandwidth to our network, and that your site is a good benchmark since it auto updates and auto scrolls... it's worked so far."

Genius.

Email us if you've come up with something similar, live@autosport.com

12:04 We'll be back in about an hour for the afternoon session. See you then

Teams packing up12:57 Hello, hello, is this on?

We are back from lunch, ready for the final three hours of testing at Barcelona, for this test, at least.

The teams are set to decide what to do next and where to go if they call off the Bahrain test, although they are already packing up to leave the Circuit de Catalunya

12:58 While we wait for the green flag, AUTOSPORT.com features editor @TeamAnglais takes a look back over some of the longer stints from Sunday afternoon (bear in mind that this only includes flying laps, not the in and out-laps):

Webber did 59 quick laps during his three-stop race simulation. We think tyre use went soft-soft-hard-soft. Red Bull has been the best at holding onto the tyres, but the times drop away pretty quickly when he is on a full tank throughout both the first two stints.

The hard tyre hangs on a lot better and for a lot longer, but the pace is not as impressive as we've seen it. Webber explained after the session that the steep drop-off at the beginning of the final stint was due to traffic and not the tyres. The feeling is that this was quite a conservative run, and Webber admitted that they would do things differently in later race sims...

Webber
29.7, 29.8, 30.1, 31.4, 32.0, 32.0, 32.4, 33.2, P
27.4, 27.9, 28.9, 29.8, 30.2, 30.8, 31.1, 31.3, 31.9, 32.4, 32.6, 33.2, 33.6, P
29.9, 29.6, 29.8, 30.3, 30.8, 30.2, 30.8, 30.4, 30.6, 30.7, 30.6, 32.6, 31.8, 31.3, 31.1, 32.3, 32.5, 32.3, 33.6, 33.2, P
24.9, 28.3, 29.1, 28.4, 28.3, 28.3, 29.0, 28.5, 29.0, 29.4, 28.6, 29.1, 32.0, 29.2, 30.1, 29.8, 30.3, 30.7

McLaren only did one run of more than 10 quick laps, and it was this 16-lap effort. The times are scattered all over the place and the only explanation Hamilton would give afterwards was that he was getting overtaken a lot... So we're still waiting for a positive sign on the MP4-26.

Hamilton
29.5, 29.1, 29.4, 29.7, 32.1, 30.8, 34.8, 30.8, 37.0, 31.1, 31.4, 32.3, 44.5, 51.9, 49.2, 34.3

Ferrari did a lot of laps again. There was no race simulation, but there were a couple of runs of around 30 laps. This one was 27 with one stop in the middle, and the F150 Italia held onto the tyres impressively - less than two seconds slower after 14 laps. The pace was a lot more varied after the pitstop, but the genuine pace seems to drop by around two seconds again.

Massa
28.2, 36.5, 27.8, 28.1, 28.3, 28.7, 29.0, 28.9, 28.9, 29.3, 29.2, 29.4, 29.9, 30.1, P
31.5, 26.5, 26.9, 31.4, 27.3, 27.4, 27.6, 28.3, 28.4, 28.9, 32.1, 28.0, 28.1

13:00 Green flag

13:01 But no one seemed to care too much, as all cars are still in their garages

13:04 It will be challenging to fill three hours of commentary if all the teams decide to stay in the pits all afternoon, but we are up for it

13:04 So let's talk about the weather: 26 degrees Celsius on track, 16 on the air. Still sunny, and still no cars

13:07 This is how TV commentators must feel during Friday practice when it rains

13:08 Seven minutes into the session, and still no cars on track

A helicopter13:10 @TeamAnglais insists that we show you his pictures of the medical helicopter, and since there is nothing to report on track...

13:11 Schumacher ends the monotony and heads out of the pits

13:12 He is joined by Heidfeld, who will be hoping to complete a lot of laps in the afternoon following a slow morning

13:15 The Renault driver has so far completed the second smallest number of laps with 23. The less busy man today was Jarno Trulli, whose Lotus team is already leaving the track because of a shortage of parts following the Italian's crash

13:16 A 1m32.194s for Schumacher on his first lap, around second slower than Heidfeld

13:17 Pastor Maldonado has also joined the action in the Williams

13:19 Thanks for the messages of support during the action-less start to the afternoon session

13:21 The Germans return to the pits after three timed laps, all of them in the 1m31s and 1m32s. Maldonado is left alone on track

13:21 And now he stops too

13:22 You can still send in your questions to live@autosport.com and we'll try to answer them

13:23 Maldonado heads back out again

13:26 The Williams drivers posts a 1m33.198s as he completes his 45th lap of the day

13:28 Schumacher is out for another run

13:28 And Sutil in the Force India too

13:32 Many people are asking questions about the pace of the McLaren and, as usual, it is very hard to tell, especially since the team has not been able to complete the kind of mileage done by some of its main rivals.

That means McLaren is yet to be able to focus 100% on set-up work, and thus its times are even harder to read because the potential of the car has not been extracted.

All that again leads to the same answer every team and driver is giving at the moment: It's impossible to know yet.

13:32 Massa joins Maldonado, Sutil and Schumacher on track. The Ferrari driver has managed 66 laps

13:32 Webber also out for a run

13:35 Some of you are asking what is the best possible time from teams like Red Bull or Ferrari.

We think they could go into the 1m22s, and maybe into the 1m21s if the temperatures were higher.

We hate to come back to the same thing again, but right now there are so many different variables that it is very hard to predict.

Michael Schumacher13:36 Schumacher on the fourth lap of his current run, lapping in the 1m27s and then in the 1m28s

13:39 The seven-time champion has matched Hamilton's tally of laps at 66. Massa is still on track and continues to be the busiest man now with 71

13:42 Pirelli's Paul Hembery will be joining us on Live to answer your questions soon. But we have enough of them, so don't send any more!

13:46 Dave asks: Toro Rosso and Sauber both seem to have good pace in these tests. Is this sponsor fishing or do they have genuine pace? Could it perhaps be from KERS in the Ferrari engines or have the found something else that could clear them a bit further away from the midfield?

As suggested by Jenson Button, the best indicator of form right now is consistency, and Toro Rosso has been quite consistent in its runs, so it is looking quite good for them, and also they have full backing from Red Bull, so I don't believe they are looking for sponsors.

Sauber has also been quite consistent too, but again it's very early to say.

As for KERS, teams reckon it is worth around three tenths of a second per laps, so it's not a huge factor that will make a team be competitive or not.

13:46 Webber in currently on a three-lap run in the 1m30s and 31s

13:47 An update on Renault's plan for the afternoon: @OfficialLRGP: After a quiet morning, the priority this afternoon is to get miles on the car. Nick will simulate a race distance on new and scrubbed tyres.

13:51 Chris Stenton asks: Jenson has been hyped up to be better with degradation on these new Pirelli tyres than Lewis, has there been an evidence of this so far in testing?

Probably one of the best pieces of evidence of this is the drivers' own words:

Here's what Hamilton has said

And here's what Button has said

We will have to see how that translates in the races

Felipe Massa13:53 Thirteen-lap run for Massa so far, as the Brazilian reaches a total of 80

13:57 Some data gather by AUTOSPORT.com managing editor @EliGP:

Up until this morning, Fernando Alonso has been the busiest man in 2011 testing with 1,914 kms covered. He is followed at some distance by Michael Schumacher, who has 1,501 km (not counting today's session).

Barrichello is third with 1,407, Webber fourth with 1,405 and Vettel completes the top five with 1,377.

13:59 Of the racing drivers who have been with their teams since the start of the year, Petrov sits at the bottom of the list with 652 km covered.

Lotus drivers Kovalainen and Trulli follow with 661 and 721 km respectively

14:01 As for the teams' standings, and not counting today's test, Ferrari has completed 749 laps, Red Bull 653, Force India 591, Mercedes 541, Sauber 534, Toro Rosso 530, McLaren 512, Williams 511, Renault 503, Virgin 434, Lotus 342 and HRT 188

Of course, some teams have completed some of those laps with old cars

14:01 Back on track, Toro Rosso is preparing to do pitstop practice with Buemi's car

14:01 While Hamilton is carrying out a cooling test

14:05 No news on D'Ambrosio yet following the problems he had this morning. He has managed 27 laps

14:06 Massa has L15 on his pitboard, having just completed a 15-lap run

14:09 Ankit Pardeshi asks: Hello everyone, first of all I would like to thank you for showing live text commentary...it is very good. My question is now with the Bahrain test being cancelled how much that would affect the teams?

Well, the test has not been officially cancelled yet and an announcement is expected in the afternoon.

Anyway, if it is cancelled, the main problem the teams will have is not having been able to test the Pirelli tyres in hotter conditions, something they haven't been able to do in Spain so far.

So they are likely to arrive in the first race of the season not knowing how the tyres will behave and degrade in the heat of Bahrain, Australia or wherever the first race is.

14:10 Heidfeld is also on a lap run, with L15 on his pitboard too

14:11 Lewis Hamilton had a good morning with 66 laps, but the McLaren driver has only returned to the track to complete two installation laps in the afternoon

14:13 Force India was scheduled to test its KERS for the first time today and, although some of you have asked about it, there are no news on that yet

Adrian Sutil14:13 In any case, Sutil has covered 43 laps so far and is currently on track

14:15 Maldonado gets sideways leaving the Williams garage

14:17 Some questions about what happened to Trulli.

Lotus said it has not been his fault, but rather a car failure, although it did not confirm the exact cause of the accident

14:18 Hamilton practices a start at the end of the pitlane

14:19 Eight laps so far for Massa, in the 1m28s, then 1m29s, then 1m30s. Soon 1m31s..

14:21 Martin Brundle gives his take... "Drivers will bitch like crazy but I'm really liking what I'm seeing out on track. They are really having to drive the cars, loads of mistakes

"Mercedes has poor traction, McLaren looks shocking as if on cold tyres, Red Bull+Ferrari+Renault Lotus Lada+Williams all pounding round"

14:23 Massa has ended his run after nine laps, averaging 1m30.254s. The Brazilian is now 94 laps today

14:24 Two laps left on this run for Heidfeld, who is on the 13th lap

14:26 Schumacher on the eight lap of this stint, how lapping in the 1m29s, having started the run with a 1m27s

14:27 There is a lot consistency in the way the drivers' times drop after a few laps

14:28 Oubay Zakkar from Syria asks: You mentioned yesterday that Webber is carrying out a cooling test; and now Hamilton is. Would you kindly explain what's a cooling test?

In Hamilton's case consisted of just standing still with his engine running, and then setting off after a while. A wait-for-the-start sort of situation

14:33 Heidfeld completed 17 laps before going through the pits and returning to the track

14:34 Finally, D'Ambrosio is back on track following this morning's problems. The Belgian had not been in action since he caused the first red flag of the day at 11am

14:35 He has improved his best time right away, posting a 1m30.368s

14:36 Hamilton completed his first proper run of the afternoon: eight laps with an average of 1m33.017s

Jerome D'Ambrosio14:38 Another improvement for D'Ambrosio, who is now just two tenths off Trulli's time with a 1m30.184s

14:42 Herman from Holland asks: You just mentioned that there is a lot consistency in the way the drivers' times drop after a few laps. Can you explain if that is true for the small and the long runs? And do you know which tyres the drivers are using, since Pirelli hasn't announced the distinction between the different type of tyres?

Of course it varies from driver to driver, but yes, the times drop down pretty consistently, especially over stints that reach the double digits.

Over short runs of three laps or so, the times seem to stay consistent without dropping.

Unfortunately we don't know which tyres each driver is using, as they are not marked yet and will not be until the first race of the season

14:43 Twenty-three laps for Heidfeld in this run, although he has gone through the pits twice

14:45 Massa and Maldonado are on 96 laps as the two busiest men so far. Schumacher follows with 91

14:49 All three men are on track at the moment and look likely to reach the 100-mark in a moment

14:51 Heidfeld is on the third stint of a race simulation, although the team is not running it quite as realistically as Red Bull did yesterday.

14:52 The Renault mechanics aren't geared up for full-speed race pitstops today, so the tyre changes between Heidfeld's runs have been leisurely.

14:54 Maldonado is now 57 laps into a race run with the Williams and has been in for the final stop a couple of laps ago.

14:55 Interesting to see that he tried a longer first stint than we've seen elsewhere - with the times dropping off to 1m35.671s on his full fuel stint.

14:56 D'Ambrosio improves to a 1m29.692s to put the Virgin ahead of Trulli's garaged Lotus.

14:57 Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery will now be answering your questions!

14:58 Martin Nash in Wales asked: If the tyres are degrading more quickly than last year's tyres, but the track isn't rubbering in like it did last year, where is the rubber going? Are there more marbles off-line? Was the track not rubbering in planned, or is it just a side-effect of your remit to increase tyre degradation?

Paul Hembery: You have to be careful about making judgements about the tests so far, they've all been in cold conditions. The tyres aren't in their working conditions, there aren't any races that run in under 15 degrees. From our testing we've done so far elsewhere, the tracks do get rubberised. So we expect to see the tracks get rubberised more and less marbles.

14:59 Maldonado's pace is in the 1m27s as he runs the final stint of his race simulation - possibly on a different compound of tyres.

15:00 Fredrik Almgren asked: Is the final spec for the 2011 tyres now frozen, or are changes still planned?

PH: There are no changes planned at the moment. Though we've always said that if the teams want changes during the season we'll find a way of introducing that, together with the FIA.

15:01 Buemi, Maldonado, Hamilton, Heidfeld and Schumacher are on track as the test reaches its final hour.

15:02 Steve Winter from Dubai asks: Do you think the higher tyre degradation will further limit the amount of running on the Friday of race weekends? Teams already limited their Friday running to preserve tyres for qualifying and the race. Could a solution be to increase the allocation of Friday tyres?

PH: We'd certainly consider increasing the allocation if that became an issue. But from the conditions we have at the moment you could draw bad conclusions. If the teams are talking if they had to race in these conditions tomorrow, eight degrees first thing in the morning, then they'd be on a two-stop strategy. We believe they'd be on a two-stop strategy if we had the normal conditions for Barcelona.


Pirelli tyre15:03 Simon Berry in Southampton asks: My concern is that drivers will be going round at 80 per cent of the car's capability, just so they don't ruin the tyres. How much more gentle will they have to be? Will we still see drivers pushing the boundaries and making mistakes?

PH: Drivers will always push the boundaries to the edge of the envelope. There are different elements. They'll be driving to the limits of the whole package and one part of that is tyres, so yes they will still have to manage that situation.

15:06 Still overcast here, with the track temperature now down to 15 degrees.

15:09 Chris Nicolaides asks: I was at the Barcelona test this Friday and Sunday, and couldn't help but notice the amount of marbles off-line at certain corners (Turn 4, for example). How will this affect overtaking?

PH: We'd like to see less marbles, that's certainly the case. At the moment the tyres are chipping so there's more compound coming away than we'd seen in our own testing. So we'd certainly like to see less, and if we have to we'll find a solution to have less. If you do have a heavy wearing of marbles on the circuit it does make overtaking less favourable because you have the pick-up on the tyres.

So, from our point of view, we foresee having less but if we didn't, we would seek to make some changes to reduce it.


15:10 Massa clocks a 1m23.531s, moving up to second fastest.

15:11 The red flag is out.

15:12 Maldonado hasn't returned to the pits in his Williams.

15:13 He has pulled to a halt at the pit exit.

15:14 The Williams was pretty much at the end of his race distance, so it is possible the team has run the car dry as a test.

15:15 As the Williams is recovered, we'll continue with your questions to Paul Hembery.

Pirelli wet tyre15:15 The penultimate question comes from Ali Unal: Yesterday, we heard some negative comments from drivers about your tyres, especially from Sutil who said: "Pirelli is not good in the rain." Real fans know why the tyres are degrading more, but do these comments still harm your reputation and eventually force you to build more durable tyres, just to get rid of bad publicity it brings? Please don't do that!

PH: In the rain we had three teams that ran 40 laps minimum on the intermediate, and the rain tyre hasn't really been used, so from that point of view it's hard to understand those comments.

In terms of degradation that's a straight line relationship with wear. That has been much greater than what you will see when we get to the warm conditions. We could change. Ultimately, if the public perceive us as a bad product we can go more extreme and make a tyre that stays the same for the whole race, doesn't degrade, doesn't do anything.

We were asked to do something different, which is very challenging and far more difficult than to do it the other way. To make a tyre last 25 laps, which is what we're talking for a two-stop strategy - you want to force the changes for pitstops. If you take Canada from last year as an example, that's the type of thing we're trying to get. It's much easier to make a tyre that lasts all day.


15:17 Ricardo Baptista gets the final question: Is the rubber compound the same between the front and rear tyres? And how can you correct any grip imbalances between the front and rear ends? Just mess with the tyre construction, or does it entail fiddling with the rubber formula?

PH: The compound is the same front to rear, which is a challenge because they have quite different jobs to do. The rear tyre is probably 75 per cent of the performance.

It's harder with one compound but to try to simplify the life of the teams, so they're working in one parameter, we decided to go with one compound. if fairness they said if we wanted to do two compounds, we could, but from the outset we said no we'd stick with the same compound front to rear.


15:18 The green flag is out again.

15:19 Massa, Sutil, Perez and D'Ambrosio have gone out.

15:21 That's all the time we've got with Paul Hembery - thanks to him and for all the questions that flooded in. We couldn't get through them all, but some interesting stuff once again.

15:24 Perez clocks his best of the day with a lap of 1m26.264s. The Sauber is eighth fastest.

15:24 Schumacher, Webber and Massa are also on track.

15:28 Heidfeld hasn't yet resumed his race simulation. The Renault was on its final stint when the red flag came out for Maldonado.

15:28 Massa pits the Ferrari and Webber is back in the Red Bull garage.

15:29 That leaves Schumacher and D'Ambrosio lapping with half a hour remaining.

Hamilton15:29 Hamilton heads out to join them in his McLaren.

15:32 Heidfeld has now gone back out in the Renault, probably to wrap up his race distance.

15:35 Massa takes over at the top of the times with a 1m22.625s in his Ferrari.

15:36 Heidfeld also improves his best with a lap of 1m23.745s

15:37 Massa's benchmark is the fastest lap we've seen at this test as he improves again to 1m22.625s.

15:37 And now the red flag is out.

15:38 Schumacher has stopped on track at Turn 10.

15:39 The Mercedes passed through the second speed trap at just 81.3 kph, and has pulled off on the old section of circuit down there.

15:41 Recovery trucks are at the scene picking up the stranded car.

15:42 Race Control's red SEAT people carrier is bringing Schumacher back to the pits.

15:44 It's taking a while to pick up the Mercedes onto the truck.

15:45 There's some faffing around at the rear of the car by Mercedes mechanics, but now they are finally lifting it on the crane.

15:47 There's just 13 minutes left on the clock as the truck finally sets of towards the pits.

15:48 It's heading back through the final chicane, so the green should be out in a minute.

15:49 Green flag.

15:50 Massa, Heidfeld, Maldonado, Sutil, Hamilton and D'Ambrosio all head out.

15:51 Of the functional cars, only Webber's Red Bull is still in the pits.

15:53 Heidfeld clocks a 1m23.657s for his best of the day. There's also an improvement for Hamilton with 1m24.003s, moving up to fifth quickest.

15:57 D'Ambrosio has also clocked an improvement to take ninth in 1m26.501s.

15:59 Meanwhile there is breaking news on the first grand prix, via @IAA_Bahrain: "#Bahrain International Circuit announces Bahrain's withdrawal from first race in #F1 season."

15:59 Here in Barcelona, there's a minute to go.

15:59 Heidfeld has improved his time with a 1m23.657s but stays fourth.

16:00 The flag is out.

16:01 As they trail back to the pits, that rounds out four days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

16:01 Thanks for following from the Barcelona Live team: @TeamAnglais, @gcreighton, @eddstrawF1, @EliGP and Matt.

16:02 Also thanks to our sponsor of this week's coverage - the 2011 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.

16:03 Elsewhere, the postponement of the Bahrain Grand Prix - and therefore cancellation of the test there - has been confirmed.

16:03 Stick with AUTOSPORT for the news on that and the drivers' thoughts on today's running.

16:03 Goodbye for now.

  FASTEST TIMES
P Driver Team Time
1  MassaFerrari 1m22.625s
2  WebberRed Bull 1m23.442s  +0.817
3  BuemiToro Rosso 1m23.550s  +0.925
4  HeidfeldRenault 1m23.657s  +1.032
5  HamiltonMcLaren 1m24.003s  +1.378
6  MaldonadoWilliams 1m24.057s  +1.432
7  SutilForce India 1m24.177s  +1.552
8  PerezSauber 1m24.515s  +1.890
9  D'AmbrosioVirgin 1m26.501s  +3.876
10  SchumacherMercedes 1m27.079s  +4.454
11  TrulliLotus 1m29.992s  +7.367
All timing unofficial. Updated: 16:03 GMT
  OVERVIEW DAY FOUR  
  CURRENT WEATHER
Mainly cloudy High Temp: 16°C / 61°F
Track: Dry
  INFOBOX
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