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As it happened: Test day one
By Pablo Elizalde, Matt Beer, Jonathan Noble and Mark Glendenning
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
07:53 Good morning and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live as the final test of winter 2011 gets underway at Barcelona's Catalunya circuit.

07:54 It's a grey morning at the track, with some spots of rain - not quite what the teams and Pirelli were hoping for at this stage.

08:02 Jerome D'Ambrosio is the first car out this morning.

08:02 The Belgian rookie has the Virgin to himself this week while Timo Glock recovers from appendix surgery.

08:02 Sebastien Buemi is next in the Toro Rosso.

08:03 Indications are that teams will be starting off on intermediates today with the track damp from overnight showers.

08:04 Davide Valsecchi leaves the pits in the Lotus.

08:04 Valsecchi and Luiz Razia - drivers for Lotus' GP2 arm AirAsia - are in the car today.

08:04 Neither is totally new to F1, Razia was Virgin's test driver last year and drove in the Abu Dhabi rookie sessions, where Valsecchi was trying out the Hispania.

08:06 As usual, these are just installation laps at this stage and cars are straight back into the pits after one tour.

08:07 Force India provides a downbeat weather prediction via @clubforce: "Looking very gloomy now and not predicted to brighten up for the morning"

08:08 Force India is also the latest to do an installation lap - Nico Hulkenberg is trying the 2011 car for the first time today.

08:08 @clubforce: "Nico back in after his install lap. Track very slippery he reports. Tried KERS on the back straight, no issues to start"

08:08 It's starting to rain again at the circuit.

08:09 Mark Webber does his installation lap in the Red Bull.

08:09 And the track is now empty.

08:11 This is going to be a relatively quiet day - we're only expecting eight of the 12 teams to be in action.

08:11 When the schedule was reorganised in the wake of the cancellation of the Bahrain test and Grand Prix, this Catalunya test was added as a five-day session, but teams only have four days of their testing allocation left.

08:14 That's meant a split strategy - some preferred to do Tuesday to Friday and then get packed up for Australia in good time. Others decided to have an extra day in the factory and start on Wednesday.

08:14 Sergio Perez (Sauber) and Jenson Button (McLaren) complete their installation laps.

08:14 That means all teams scheduled to run today have now been out.

08:14 Ferrari, Williams, Mercedes and Hispania won't join in until tomorrow.

08:19 Nick Heidfeld is the only driver out now in the Renault, he cruises past the pits on a straightline aero test.

08:20 The rain has stopped again for now, but drizzle keeps occasionally blowing in.

08:20 The air temperature is 10 degrees, 12 on track. Slightly warmer than many early testing hours this winter, but not ideal.

08:20 Heidfeld brings the Renault back in, so the track is empty again.

08:21 As usual you can email with any burning questions about testing for our team to answer, and we'll try to get through as many as we can.

08:23 D'Ambrosio comes back out in the Virgin.

08:24 @clubforce brings news of Force India's plans for the day: "We're going to be looking at KERS, tyre work and some new aero development, plus pit stop practice this afternoon"

08:25 That was a second installation/check for D'Ambrosio and he's back in.

08:29 Hulkenberg rejoins in the Force India. He's just doing the morning session before handing over to Paul di Resta.

08:31 Perez comes out for Sauber.

08:33 Hulkenberg is back in, we're still waiting for anyone to try a flying lap this morning.

08:34 Perez gives us our first time of the morning, a 1m29.211s.

08:34 That suggests the track is only slightly damp as that would be a decent dry time on heavier fuel for many cars.

08:35 Perez improves to 1m26.789s next time.

08:36 Button comes out in the McLaren.

08:36 There's no spray from the Sauber as it continues onto another lap, looks like the track is 99 per cent dry.

08:37 McLaren is preparing airguns, looks like pitstop practice is planned.

08:37 Mechanics now rushing out.

08:37 That's thorough - they're even practicing the rushing.

08:38 Sure enough, Button dives in and does a practice stop.

08:38 His getaway is a little slow, but the tyre change goes smoothly.

08:39 So far in testing we've often seen teams do a string of 'hot' pitstops in quick succession, and also pushing their cars onto the pit apron to do static tyre change practice before the green light in the mornings.

08:39 Perez is still out. He backed off to 1m42s for a lap but is now down to 1m27.9s again.

08:40 Button comes in for another practice stop.

08:42 A third pitstop in succession for McLaren and Button.

08:42 Webber fires up the Red Bull, revs the engine in the garage for a while, then heads out.

08:43 Perez has come back in. That was a five-lap stint but times were too inconsistent to draw conclusions - his 1m27-1m29s laps punctuated with two much slower times.

08:43 D'Ambrosio is out again for Virgin, as Button continues round and Webber prepares for his first lap. McLaren crew are getting ready in the pitlane again.

08:44 This time McLaren practiced a nose change as well as tyres.

08:44 Hulkenberg leaves the Force India pit.

08:45 Here's a picture of McLaren pitstop practice from Button's trainer and pitboard man @mikeycollier

08:46 Valsecchi is out again in the Lotus. He's had some seating position adjustments since his installation lap.

08:46 Webber sets his first flying lap, a cautious 1m32.596s, as Button pits again.

08:48 McLaren does a sixth practice stop.

08:48 Webber improves to 1m29.080s, as Hulkenberg does a 1m32.123s and Valsecchi a 1m44.597s.

08:49 That was the end of Button's pitstop practice run, once that tyre change was completed he moved forward and stopped ready to be pulled back into the garage.

08:49 Hulkenberg improves to 1m30.457s on his next lap.

08:50 The weather's improving at Barcelona, the skies are a lot brighter and less grey so the occasional light showers could soon clear.

08:50 Webber is lapping in 1m29s/1m30s so far and his pitboard signals him in.

08:51 Valsecchi has improved his time to 1m38.936s.

08:52 Webber comes in and the Red Bull mechanics immediately cover the car's rear wing and diffuser.

08:53 Red Bull has been very keen to make sure no one gets too close a look at its new car in testing.

08:53 Most cars have now come back in, Valsecchi has the track to himself as he does a 1m36.958s in the Lotus.

08:54 The Red Bull wing cover looks like a special design with a solid frame on top to perfectly fit the rear wing. Wonder if Adrian Newey designed it...?

08:55 Here's our first answer from the inbox for the morning.

Anthony from London asks: "Yesterday Ferrari were reporting they had a filming day and many other teams have had them as well in recent times. What are the restrictions on filming days and is it a way of getting an extra test session?"

AUTOSPORT F1 editor @eddstrawF1 replies: "Mileage is very strictly limited on 'filming' days, and the teams' agreement that allows such running permits rival teams to go to such tests as 'observers' to ensure that the days are not being abused."

So Anthony, there's not really any advantage from doing a filming day. Every bit of mileage helps of course, but the most teams can really achieve is a shakedown and the odd check.

08:56 Buemi comes back out in the Toro Rosso.

08:57 Valsecchi comes back in.

08:57 Buemi cruises slowly down the pit straight.

08:57 Normally in testing that means the team is doing a constant speed aero test, rather than that the car is breaking down...

08:58 But there's now a red flag.

08:59 The Toro Rosso has come to a stop on the start/finish straight.

08:59 A quick recap while we have a break and as we've hit the one-hour mark. Just Perez, Webber, Hulkenberg and Valsecchi have set times so far, as the day started out slightly damp.

09:00 Everyone has completed at least two laps of installation and checks, though. Valsecchi has the highest lap count so far with nine.

09:02 There are lots of marshals around the Toro Rosso, and the truck was swiftly on the scene.

09:02 The crane comes down and the car is lifted onto the truck.

09:03 There is a bit of liquid on the track being swept up.

09:05 The timing screen says no oil went down, though.

09:05 The track is now clear as the truck heads up the pitlane.

09:05 Should be back to green any second.

09:06 Back to green.

09:06 @JensonButton: "Morning from a cold windy Circuit de Catalunya! we've been doing some pit stop practice this morning and the boys seem to be on form!"

09:07 The Toro Rosso is back at the garage and mechanics are covering it.

09:08 Another question from

Ander from Spain asks: "Why are the teams at Circuit de Catalunya again? Why not Abu Dhabi, Algarve or Motorland Aragon? They should consider the last one for the future. I've been there a few days ago and it's amazing!"

AUTOSPORT group F1 editor @NobleF1 says: "Having used Barcelona for the previous test, returning there was the easiest option with equipment rather than trying to organise something in Abu Dhabi.

"Barcelona is also one of the best tracks for aerodynamic testing, the teams thought the weather would be good and of course, it was available for the right dates.

"It also leaves teams with enough preparation time for Australia."

09:08 D'Ambrosio is the only man to take advantage of the session resuming so far. The Virgin is alone on-track.

09:09 Toro Rosso didn't have a fancy Red Bull-style cover for Buemi's broken car, by the way. It's been unloaded and is in the garage again now.

09:11 D'Ambrosio only did an in/out lap so the track is empty again.

09:11 With only eight teams in action today, we are going to be looking at a quiet racetrack more often than usual.

09:12 But that will give us a better chance to get through your questions, so keep them coming to

09:12 Here's Renault's plan for the day via OfficialLRGP: "Nick's programme is for lots of short runs. We have development items to assess, suspension work, new tyre runs and general set-up work."

09:13 Perez leaves the pits in the Sauber, he's the current pacesetter, though no one has set a serious time yet.

09:14 Hulkenberg and Heidfeld are back out.

09:16 James from Bicester asks via if Pirelli is running the tyre markings to indicate compound types at this test.

No, it isn't yet, there will be an announcement before Australia on how it will do that.

09:16 So unfortunately that does mean we can't tell you whether teams are on hard or softs this week, we'll just have to hope drivers and teams let us know later.

09:17 Just two choices of tyre this week - Pirelli is only bringing the soft and hard compounds that will be the choices for the first three grands prix of the season.

09:17 Here is a round-up of the tyre testing situation going into this week:

Final test to reveal true tyre picture

09:17 Heidfeld sets his first time of the day with a 1m29.087s to go third.

09:18 The German improves to 1m27.560s next time, which puts him second.

09:18 Five of the eight cars are out at the moment: Perez, Heidfeld, Hulkenberg, Valsecchi and Button.

09:20 Heidfeld goes fastest with a 1m26.754s, as Button does a 1m30.449s.

09:22 While Valsecchi is in the Lotus at present, his AirAsia GP2 team-mate Luiz Razia will take over later.

Luiz Razia
AUTOSPORT's deputy F1 editor @m_glendenning just spoke to Razia in the paddock.

"It's a good opportunity for us both, but we have a lot of work to do. The team didn't get to run much at the last test, so we want to do a lot of laps today. It's the first day that we've used the medium Pirellis and we use the mediums in GP2, so it will be interesting to see how the F1 versions compare."

09:23 Heidfeld improves to 1m26.465s, with Button third on a 1m28.971s now.

09:27 John Dixon asks: "I have heard you mentioning during testing that teams cover parts of their cars to prevent others from seeing what is one the car. This seems to be so mething that Red Bull does a lot.

"Is this just playing games or are they really hiding something? If they are hiding something then does covering the car actually work because the cars don't have these covers when they are moving down the pit road and it would be so easy for other teams to photograph the car..."

AUTOSPORT's group F1 editor @nobleF1 explains: "The covering of car parts is all part of the huge game that is Formula 1 testing. At races, teams are not allowed to keep things fully hidden being screens/covers – but in tests it is a free-for-all.

"At Barcelona today, for example, Red Bull Racing has employed a mechanic to throw a made-to-measure cover that fits perfectly over the rear wing when the car comes to a stop in front of the garage.

"Of course when the car is on track or going down the pitlane, the wing is exposed and any rival team can get decent photographs for their own analysis – but by covering it up as much as they can, the teams feel that at least they make the job harder for their rivals.

"It is as much a psychological game (like the Red Bull mechanics standing behind the diffuser on the grid at races) as much as anything else.

"I remember speaking to former Renault technical director Pat Symonds earlier this year, and he said one of the things he has found watching the sport from the outside was that F1 kept things too hidden.

"Basically the teams are too secretive - and unnecessarily so," he said. "If McLaren developed the F-duct over 2009, then of course they have got to keep it secret. But once things are out there – and by Spa [last year] I think everyone had an F-duct on the car – why are they so reluctant to talk about it? I could figure out how it worked, I could write about it and I did.

"Of course people want to keep things confidential, but there are other bits that everyone [within the teams] knows about – so why not pass it on and say: 'look, this is how it works.'"

McLaren nose09:29 McLaren is running a particularly unusual nose this morning. We believe this is a measuring device to check wing load.

09:29 No improvements on the track recently, though Perez, Button and now D'Ambrosio are all out.

09:29 Red Bull is laying down some yellow tape in the pitlane to mark out a pit box. Could be preparing for pitstop practice later.

09:30 Valsecchi is the slowest of those to set a time so far, currently 7s off the pace, but as @MyTeamLotus points out: "Davide's running a number of aero tests for us this morning so it's not all about pace yet..."

09:31 Button comes in. Just two flying laps for him on that run, both 1m30s.

09:31 Track temperature has now gone up to 14.4 degrees.

09:32 D'Ambrosio is back in and still yet to set a time, so it's Perez alone on the circuit in the Sauber now.

09:33 Webber comes back out, the Red Bull pitboard suggesting a four-lap run.

09:35 Jim Phillips asks: "Can HRT continue if they failed to qualify for the first few races due to being outside the 107 per cent rule? How likely is it that the others teams would let them race if they do fail to qualify?" managing editor @eligp says: "The 107 per cent rule applies to each qualifying session individually and it doesn't have any effect on the next one, meaning that if a team fails to qualify in Australia, it can have another go in the following race.

"So, in theory, a team could go to all grands prix and not race once, but it would take an exceptional decision by the FIA to stop the team from travelling to the races to try to qualify.

"It is worth noting that even if a driver fails to qualify within the 107 per cent, he could still be allowed to race based on his practice times."

09:36 Webber improves to 1m27.411s with that lap.

Red Bull09:37 Something new for this test: the Red Bull is now sporting its Infiniti branding in public.

09:38 Red Bull pitboard is deceiving us... Webber comes back in again.

09:40 Everyone is back in the pits now, the track is empty at present.

09:44 All quiet on track, while in the pitlane Red Bull is erecting its gantry for the air guns for practice stops later.

09:45 Valsecchi comes back out in the Lotus.

09:46 The team had initially suggested that Valsecchi and Razia would each have a go in the car in the morning before Jarno Trulli took over for the afternoon, but the plan is now for the GP2 pair to get a complete half-day each and the race drivers will wait until tomorrow.

09:48 Perez and D'Ambrosio come back out.

09:48 The Virgin is the last car other than the broken Toro Rosso not to do a flying lap yet today.

Davide Valsecchi tests for Lotus09:49 Valsecchi does his best lap time so far, a 1m32.465s.

09:51 Valsecchi improves to 1m31.707s, while D'Ambrosio has come back in, still without setting a time.

09:52 Perez is also back in without going for a time. Just Valsecchi on the circuit for now.

09:54 Kabeer Chawla from New Delhi asks: "How much of a say do drivers have in drafting of regulations for every Formula 1 season. Especially for regulations which are aimed at improving on-the-track racing such as use of movable wings or no refuelling etc?"

AUTOSPORT's deputy F1 editor @m_glendenning says: "The short answer is: none. The regulations are written by the FIA. Teams can make proposals though FOTA's Technical Regulations Working Group and the Sporting Regulations Working Group (which, as the names suggest, deal with the technical regulations and sporting regulations respectively), and these can then be directed towards the FIA for consideration."

09:54 As Valsecchi gets down to 1m31.040s, the sun comes out for the first time today.

09:55 The track temperature is now up to 17 degrees. This will please Pirelli, it's closer to what the tyre firm was hoping for from this test after lots of unusually cold running so far.

09:55 Button is out in the McLaren.

09:57 Button has come straight back in, while Valsecchi continues, his times varying from 1m33s to 1m40s as he conducts aero tests.

09:57 Rupert from London has noticed that cars are on slicks in our recent pictures, and asks if that means the track is fully dry now.

Yes, despite the early showers, when teams got on-track it turned out to be almost entirely dry. So after using intermediates for the initial installation laps, they were quickly onto slicks.

09:57 Keep your questions coming to

Jenson Button09:59 McLaren has altered its plans for the week slightly:

McLaren to skip Thursday test session

10:00 Button dived into the pits after his first lap of that run, but has now gone back out and continued round.

10:01 Valsecchi has pitted, so Button - who stays out and is onto a proper run - is alone on the circuit.

10:01 Heifeld is still fastest ahead of Perez and Webber.

10:02 Highest mileage of the morning is Valsecchi with 26 laps in the Lotus, followed by Perez on 25 for Sauber.

10:02 Webber now comes back out.

10:06 Hulkenberg sets off too.

10:06 Button is currently lapping in 1m31s, Webber in 1m29s.

10:06 And Webber comes back in.

10:08 Perez leaves the pits in the Sauber.

10:08 Button's lap times have gone up to high 1m32s, as Hulkenberg does a low 1m30s.

10:09 Hulkenberg does his best time of the day so far, going fourth with a 1m28.148s.

Nico Hulkenberg10:09 He's now done 15 laps as he settles into the Force India VJM04, his only previous test this winter having come when the team was still using its 2010 car.

10:11 Quicker still from Hulkenberg with a 1m27.878s.

10:12 Button's pace is now in the 1m33s, while Perez does a 1m28s. This will be a fuel load matter - McLaren may have some issues, but it's not 5s off Sauber and Force India pace.

10:12 D'Ambrosio comes out again, but he's still yet to do a fully flying lap.

10:13 Meanwhile his Virgin team-mate @realTimoGlock reports that he is "bored" as he sits out testing to recover from having his appendix removed.

10:13 Perez and Hulkenberg still doing mid-1m28s, Button high 1m33s.

10:14 Button is onto lap eight of his stint, Hulkenberg lap five and Perez lap three.

10:14 Perez picks up speed with a 1m27.5s, still a second off his best on a shorter run earlier.

10:19 Perez and Hulkenberg end their runs and pit.

10:19 Button stays out, now doing 1m34s.

10:21 This is going to be a race simulation from Button, pitboard is counting down and is now on 'L52'

10:21 That proves that he is running a very hefty fuel load at present.

10:22 He pits after the first 13 laps.

10:22 His times started in 1m30s before swiftly going up to 1m34s, so not an especially quick pace.

10:24 Looks like a problem for McLaren - Button did just one lap after exiting that stop then came back into the pits. He's now being pulled into the garage.

10:24 Just Heidfeld on the circuit now.

10:26 Heidfeld does a 1m25.1s, then a 1m24.735s as he lowers the morning's benchmark.

Nick Heidfeld10:26 That puts him 2s clear of second-placed Perez, who is now on the track again.

10:27 Webber is preparing to head out again.

10:28 Webber joins the circuit, Perez came back in without going for a lap.

10:29 Heidfeld comes in to end that short run.

10:30 That was a three-lap run from the Renault - a 25.1, 24.7 then 26.8 and into the pits.

10:30 Webber is starting his run with a mid-1m29s.

10:31 Webber shoots to the top with a 1m23.085s.

10:31 That's 1.6s quicker than Heidfeld in second and 3.7s ahead of third-placed Perez.

10:32 Webber's time is only 0.4s off Felipe Massa's benchmark from last month's Cataluyna test.

10:32 A one-off quick lap from Webber, whose next time is a 1m27.4s.

10:34 Webber does a 1m23.3s on his next lap.

10:36 Now a 1m24.4s for Webber, as Hulkenberg leaves the Force India pit.

10:36 Valsecchi comes out too.

10:37 Webber will be in at the end of this lap.

10:38 He does a 1m26.0s on the final flying lap of that stint. So a relatively short five-lap run, but not exactly a Q3 simulation.

Mark Webber10:39 Webber's average time on that run was a 1m24.8s.

10:39 Hulkenberg is doing 1m28s at the start of his run, Valsecchi 1m32s.

10:40 Best time yet from Valsecchi, a 1m30.869s.

10:43 A smaller improvement from Valsecchi that time, a 1m29.985s.

10:45 Mark Harrison requested a book review via, asking is we'd read the Bernie Ecclestone biography 'No Angel' yet and what we thought.

AUTOSPORT F1 editor @eddstrawF1 is reading it at the moment - though he warns that this review is only based on the opening few chapters: "It's okay, although hasn't yet offered much that you didn't get in previous Bernie biographies. Encountered a lot of typos, which is a bit worrying, and I'm not yet convinced that the author has a great feel for motor-racing circles - but it's clearly worth a read."

10:46 Still no times from D'Ambrosio's Virgin, though it has done 11 laps via in/out installation laps. It's on another one now - cruising through the pitlane slowly then setting off again.

10:49 The Virgin drives through the pitlane again, stops in the pit box, pulls away, then stops and is pushed back into the garage.

10:49 That leaves just Valsecchi on the circuit.

10:52 Valsecchi has ended a seven-lap run, averaging in mid-1m32s. Perez is now out and has the track to himself.

10:54 Perez is doing high 1m27s, while Heidfeld comes out and Force India indicates Hulkenberg won't be far behind.

10:54 Sure enough, here comes the Force India.

10:57 Heidfeld didn't go for a time on that run. Perez and Hulkenberg are both in mid-1m28s. D'Ambrosio appears again, not sure yet if he'll finally complete a flying lap.

10:57 Webber is going out too.

10:57 Just over an hour till the lunchbreak, might be more of a dash for track time coming up.

10:58 Webber remains the pacesetter by a commanding 1.6s over Heidfeld. Highest mileage now is Perez on 39 laps.

Nico Hulkenberg10:58 Hulkenberg does a 1m26.030s and takes third from Perez.

10:59 D'Ambrosio finally opens his account for the day with a 1m35.968s.

11:00 That means the only driver still to set a time is Buemi, who we haven't seen since his Toro Rosso came to a halt on the track two hours ago.

11:00 Remember we won't be seeing Williams, Mercedes, Ferrari or Hispania until tomorrow.

11:01 A quicker time from D'Ambrosio, who does a 1m33.891s.

11:05 Three cars on the track at the moment: Webber doing mid-1m27s, Heidfeld on 1m26s and D'Ambrosio on 1m33s. Heidfeld now comes in.

11:06 Heidfeld has been doing a string of in/out laps recently without going for times.

11:07 Webber is onto lap four of a stint that began with low-1m26s/high-1m25s before suddenly rising to 1m27s.

11:07 That's it for now, the Red Bull pits. Track is empty.

11:09 Warming up nicely here now. Track temperature is 22.8 degrees, although air temperature is 12.7.

11:10 Pirelli had suggested that the tyre wear situation might look quite different when tests took place in weather warm enough for the tracks to heat up and get 'rubbered-in' properly.

Davide Valsecchi11:11 Valsecchi breaks the silence in the Lotus.

11:14 Myk Duncalf asks via how the 107 per cent rule will be applied this season - whether it will be 107 per cent of the final pole time that's used as a cut-off, or the Q1 time.

It will be the Q1 time, Myk, so that it's a fair comparison with everyone together, and so slower teams don't have to wait the full hour to know whether they've made it into the race or not.

11:15 Still just Valsecchi on the circuit, lapping in 1m31s.

11:16 Valsecchi does his best time so far, a 1m29.568s.

11:18 Now it's getting a little busier, here come Heidfeld in the Renault and Perez in the Sauber, as Valsecchi shaves another tenth off his best time.

11:20 Perez sets his best time, a 25.4s, and retakes third.

11:22 Webber has also started another run.

11:26 Valsecchi has finished his stint, doing six laps averaging in 1m31s. Heidfeld did just two laps - a 26.4 and a 27.6 - then pitted.

11:31 Perez and Webber both finish four-lap runs, Webber's in mid-1m30s (surely heavy fuel), Perez averaging mid-1m27s. Now the track is quiet again.

11:34 While it's quiet, back into the questions inbox... Raymond Umbara asks how the 107 per cent rule will work if qualifying is wet but practice has been dry. Could a team outside 107 per cent in the wet but within the cut in the dry get in?

It will depend on the exact case and the stewards' decision that weekend, but the past precedent suggests that yes, they would get in. That was certainly the general pattern last time the 107 per cent rule was a regular factor in the late 1990s - the 1999 French GP grid possibly the best case.

11:36 Button comes back out - he abandoned a race simulation with an apparent problem earlier on. Valsecchi is leaving the pits too.

Nick Heidfeld11:36 A change of plan from Renault, @OfficialLRGP: "Nick has a cold so will not be driving this afternoon. Vitaly will jump in the car for the rest of the day."

11:38 Also coming out now is Perez.

11:38 A major improvement from Valsecchi, he leaps to third on a 1m25.406s.

11:38 Webber sets off again too.

11:40 We're getting a few questions about the alarming bulge on the McLaren's nose section. For those of who who've recently joined us, we believe it's yet another unusual measuring device, possibly checking wing load, rather than a design quirk. We're waiting to hear more from the team about what it actually does.

11:41 Button had just completed the first stint of a full race distance simulation when he had to return to the garage last time. It doesn't look like he's resuming that - pit board says just five laps rather than the 50-odd he had remaining.

11:41 Webber goes quickest again, doing a 1m22.544s.

Mark Webber11:41 That puts him 2s clear of the unwell Heidfeld. Red Bull's pace is very impressive today - that's also quicker than anyone went at the previous Barcelona test in February.

11:42 Also out at present, Perez is doing high 1m28s, Button high 1m29s.

11:43 Now that was a qualifying-style run from Webber - he comes straight back into the pits. His earlier 1m23s were on a five-lap run.

11:46 The session has been stopped.

11:46 The red flag comes out for Valsecchi's Lotus in the gravel.

11:48 The GP2 driver has gone off in the Turn 11/12 section, the right-handers heading towards the final chicane.

11:48 He was due to hand over to Luiz Razia at lunchtime anyway.

11:50 Lots of track workers are around the stranded Lotus, and now the crane has arrived to retrieve the car.

11:51 Doesn't seem to be any damage to the Lotus, looks like it just spun backwards into the gravel.

11:52 The car is now on the back of the recovery truck.

11:53 Barcelona is pretty swift at getting sessions underway as soon as the truck is off the circuit, so we should get a few more minutes of running before the lunchbreak.

11:55 The truck is on its way back to the pits with the Lotus. The track workers are now just smoothing the gravel trap over again.

11:56 The team had sent personnel to the scene to get a cover over the car, so we couldn't see if there was any damage as the Lotus passed us in the pitlane.

11:56 Back to green.

11:57 Perez and Button leave the pits.

11:58 Webber is going out again as well.

12:01 The flag comes out so the cars will finish these laps and pit.

12:01 A 1m22.6s from Webber, just a tenth off his best. Impressive stuff.

12:01 Button's lap was a 1m29.7s, Perez pitted without going for a time.

12:02 So as the McLaren and the Red Bull head back to the pits, the teams and drivers prepare for a lunchbreak, and so will we.

12:02 After the first four hours, Webber is quickest by 2.1s over Heidfeld, with Valsecchi third in the Lotus.

12:02 Perez and Valsecchi have the morning's top mileage with 54 and 50 laps respectively. Lowest tally is Buemi - just three laps before the Toro Rosso expired this morning.

12:03 We'll be back in an hour to take you through to the end of today's test. Keep the questions coming to in the meantime.

12:58 Action is about the get underway again at Barcelona for the afternoon session.

Vitaly Petrov is taking over from the unwell Nick Heidfeld at Renault, while Paul di Resta should be replacing Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India.

Luiz Razia takes over from Davide Valsecchi at Lotus

13:00 No news yet on Sebastien Buemi following his stoppage in the morning, but the Toro Rosso driver will surely be hoping to get some running done after just three untimed laps

13:02 The green flag is out and D'Ambrosio is the first man to jump onto the track in the Virgin

Jerome D'Ambrosio13:04 The Belgian has so far managed 20 laps and is yet to set a competitive time, being over 10 seconds off the pace

13:05 D'Ambrosio improves on his best time on his first flyer, but just slightly, to a 1m32.790s

13:07 Buemi finally returns to the track after a lengthy period in his garage following the problems this morning

13:07 Another fastest lap for D'Ambrosio, who is now less than 10 seconds off the pace set by Webber. A 1m32.060s for the Virgin racer

13:08 The temperatures have dropped quite a bit for the afternoon session, with the track at 19.4 degrees Celsius

13:09 D'Ambrosio is back into the pits after two timed laps, leaving Buemi alone on track

13:10 The Toro Rosso driver has posted his first time of the day - 1m28.231s - to move to sixth position on the timesheets

McLaren nose13:11 Our @noblef1 reports: McLaren confirms the extreme nose on the car is a test-only measuring device for 'long-term development purposes'. It won't be raced.

13:12 Buemi has improved to a1m26.958s and is now over four seconds off the pace

13:13 Jenson Button has joined Buemi on track

13:14 Four laps for Buemi in this run, and each of them quicker than the previous one

13:15 Button jumps up to second with a 1m23.782s, still 1.2 second off Webber's time

13:17 Button's time is over a second quicker than the best he managed in the previous test at Barcelona

13:17 This time it was a one-lap run for the McLaren driver, however, as he is not back in the pitlane

13:18 Buemi is also back in the pits after a six-lap run averaging 1m26.683s

13:19 D'Ambrosio in the Virgin is currently the only driver on track

13:21 McLaren's best time in the previous test was a 1:m23.8, set by Hamilton, so Button's 1m23.7 is the best by the team at Barcelona yet

David Valsecchi13:22 Several teams, including Lotus, are yet to turn a wheel in the afternoon session

13:23 That is Valsecchi going off at the end of the morning

13:25 Meanwhile, Tonio Liuzzi suggests he is close to racing with Hispania:

"Only in Australia will I see the work group. There's no contract yet, but they need an experienced driver while I'm free after the Force India split, so the elements are all there."

Story coming up soon

13:26 Pace-setter Webber is back on track

13:28 D'Ambrosio has completed a couple of one-lap flyers and is now back in the pits

13:28 And back out again

13:29 Webber and D'Ambrosio are joined by Button, who goes out for another run

13:29 Webber is currently running in the 1m28s

13:31 Button takes a big leap and moves into the 1m22s

13:31 A 1m22.937s for Button, who is some two seconds quicker than last week's personal best

13:32 For those asking, HRT is not scheduled to run until tomorrow. With or without the new car is yet to be confirmed

13:33 Button's time was again set over a single lap. Then the Briton want back into the pits

Mark Webber13:35 Webber, meanwhile, is currently on the sixth lap of this run, his times dropping consistently into the 1m30s

13:35 Luiz Razia joins the action in the Lotus

13:36 Razia had last driven an F1 car back in November, during the young drivers test at Abu Dhabi

13:37 AUTOSPORT's @M_glendenning has spoken to Team Lotus and here's some info on its programme:

The team spent the lead-up to this test working on reliability, and is encouraged that Davide Valsecchi managed to put 50 laps on the car during the morning session.

No further updates are expected to be added to the T128 during the test this week, but there will be a new wing and assorted other upgrades in Melbourne.

13:38 Razia's first timed lap is a modest 1m41.227s

13:39 Webber's times continue to drop on the eighth lap of the current stint. The Red Bull driver is now in the 1m30.3s

13:41 A 1m31.5 for Webber now. He had started his run in the 1m28s

13:42 In F1 news, Bahrain has been given until May 1 to decide if it wants the race back this year

Bahrain decision to be taken in May

13:44 Sergio Perez's Sauber is yet to hit the track in the afternoon. The car with has a hydraulic leak that the team is working on

13:44 Webber has pitted after a 10-lap run with a average of 1m30.112s

13:45 Buemi heads out of the pits to join Razia on track

13:46 A few more notches for Buemi's front wing before he rejoins the action

13:46 Razia pits after eight laps, his best a 1m34.467s

13:47 Button out for another run too

Clouds13:48 The clouds are still looming in Barcelona, with drizzle a real threat

13:51 Button has managed another lap in the 1m22s, but around half a second off his best

13:52 The Briton is back in the pits again after just one lap

13:54 D'Ambrosio in the Virgin car is the only man on track

13:56 He is now back into the pits, leaving the circuit empty

13:57 Now D'Ambrosio heads back out again, as is joined by Webber

14:01 An installation lap for D'Ambrosio, who is now on 42 in total

14:01 More F1 news: Pirelli has been given the green light to give teams 'experimental' rubber to test at Formula 1 race weekends this year, as AUTOSPORT exclusively revealed last week.

Green light for GP Friday tyre testing

14:02 A 1m28.390s for Webber on his first lap of the current stint

14:06 A few questions have been sent about the markings of Pirelli's tyres, but the Italian manufacturer have always maintained it would only reveal them in the first race of the season

14:07 Our man @noblef1 will have some answers on that later as he is now talking to Pirelli's Paul Hembery

14:08 Back on track, there is not a lot of action this afternoon, with Webber the only driver on track. He is lapping in the not-so-exciting 1m28s

14:09 Paul di Resta takes to the track for the first time today in the Force India, having replaced team-mate Nico Hulkenberg

14:11 Webber is on the seventh lap of his current run, and again his times are dropping very consistently every time he crosses the start/finish line.

He started his stint with a 1m27 and is now lapping in the 1m29s

14:13 Meanwhile, it's pancake day at Team Lotus, as this photo shows

14:13 Petrov has completed his first installation lap of the day in the Renault

14:14 While di Resta has jumped up to eighth with a 1m27.196s

Bored mechanic14:15 There isn't an awful lot of action going on today on track. You can tell not all teams are testing

14:16 Button heads out of the pits again. Let's see if he goes for another qualifying run

14:18 More news from the FIA, who has tweaked safety car and pit regulations for this year

FIA tweaks safety car and pit rules

14:19 Now a flyer from Button this time, the McLaren driver posting a 1m30.178s

14:20 Webber is on the 13th lap of his run, his longest today, and also the longest by any driver

14:24 Button completed two timed laps - in the 1m29s and 1m30s - before returning to the pits

14:25 Pirelli's Paul Hemberey has just told us that they will announce the tyre markings next week

14:26 As Webber enters the 17th lap of his run, now in the 1m32s. That's a five-second difference to when he started the stint

14:28 And yet more F1 news: The FIA has announced that its circuit commission will look into whether Formula 1 tracks can be changed to encourage more overtaking.

Circuits could change to help passing

14:30 Webber has completed a 17-lap run, averaging a 1m29.589s. His best time was a 1m27.8s, set on the opening lap of the run

Sergio Perez14:30 Sergio Perez has finally returned to the track following his hydraulic leak

14:34 Webber has been the busiest man so far with 69 laps, followed by Perez with 62, Button 58, D'Ambrosio 52, Valshecchi 50, Hulkenberg 31, Heidfeld 20, Buemi 18, Razia 8, Di Resta 7 and Petrov 1

14:34 So all in all, not a lot of running done today

14:36 Button, Perez, D'Ambrosio and di Resta are on track at the moment

14:37 Button is on the third lap of his stint and his times are improving bit by bit, although he is still in the 1m29s

14:38 Petrov, yet to set a time, heads out of the pits

14:40 The Russian's first timed lap of the day is a 1m39.767s

14:41 Team-mate Heidfeld had completed just 20 laps this morning before feeling unwell, so Renault will be hoping to have a productive final part of the test, although there are just 80 minutes left

14:42 Sixth lap for Button, whose timed improves up to the third lap, then began to drop

14:43 Petrov moves ahead of D'Ambrosio and Razzia with a 1m30.019s

Jenson Button14:44 Button wraps up a seven-lap stint, averaging 1m29.589s

14:45 As di Resta reports that it's raining on Turn 1

14:47 That hasn't stopped Petrov from improving further, though, the Renault driver now with a best of 1m28.200s

14:48 Petrov pits and leaving Buemi and Perez on track

14:53 Perez and Buemi running in relatively similar times, in the 1m25s and 1m26s

14:53 No rain can be spotted from the media centre yet

14:54 And Buemi's best of 1m26.004s suggests whatever rain was falling it is not affecting the grip too much

14:55 And it didn't affect Perez either, the Mexican leaping up to fourth with a 1m25.269s

14:55 As Buemi's Toro Rosso crew waits for the Swiss driver in the pitlane

14:57 Perez set his best time on fourth lap of what it is so far a five-lap stint

14:58 Di Resta joins the action once again

14:59 Perez's lap tally so far is 73, four more than the second busiest man today, Mark Webber

14:59 Di Resta goes quicker right away with a lap of 1m27.180s, good enough for eighth

Pirelli tyres15:03 Pirelli's Paul Hembery has told AUTOSPORT that they were hoping for higher temperatures today:

"The temperature is not much better than last time unfortunately. The mornings were a bit colder. We actually had 4-5 degrees, starting out at 9am.

"We were up to the heady heights of 8 degrees this morning – and this afternoon as you can all feel the temperature has dropped dramatically and there is no sunshine at all. So, it is probably back down to 12-13 degrees so not helped us at all from a learning point of view.

"We would have liked to have 25-degrees (track temperature) which through the season is towards the lower end. We analysed all the previous races of the past two years and apart from maybe two occasions in two years you don’t get below 20.

"The biggest worry beforehand was the other way around, it was actually not working up into the higher temp ranges. If we had come here and everything was working find I would be more worried actually because it means we probably will suffer when we get to the 40-45 degrees track temp that we will certainly see during the season."

15:03 Webber is out on track again

15:04 Tonio Liuzzi seems to be set to land the second seat at the Hispania team...

Liuzzi: Hispania deal is imminent

15:05 With 55 minutes left, Petrov also joins the track for another run

15:07 Nick Heidfeld on why he stopped testing today: "I'm just a bit ill. The doctor said it would be gone by now, but it's lasting a bit longer than I'd hoped.

"I don't feel good in the car. We are here for four days anyway, so I'd prefer to rest a bit today and tomorrow and then do one-and-a-half days on Thursday and Friday."

15:09 Four-lap run for Webber so far, the Australian on his 75th lap of the day

15:09 On his 11th lap of the afternoon, Petrov makes another improvement, to a 1m26.908s

15:10 The McLaren of Button leaves the pits again

Two Red Bulls15:12 For a moment there were two Red Bulls in the pitlane, although one of them was empty

15:12 A 1m25.710s for Petrov, who is now sixth quickest

15:14 Now the Russian is up to fifth with a 1m25.275s

15:15 Webber surpasses Perez's lap tally to become the busiest man with 78 laps

15:16 Petrov pits after a six-lap run averaging 1m28.190s

15:17 Webber is on the eight lap of his run, lapping in the 1m28s, while Button is on the fourth lap, also in the 28s

15:18 The two quickest men today are joined by the slowest, as Razia goes for another run in the Lotus

Luiz Razia15:19 Lotus is planning to test a new front wing on Thursday

15:21 Button pits after a six-lap run. His average was a 1m29.252s and he is now up to 73 laps in total

15:22 Razia sheds some two seconds from his best time to get close to D'Ambrosio

15:23 Webber continues to be the man with the longest runs today, the Australian on the 13th round of this stint. He is now lapping in the 1m30s, having started the run in the 1m27s

15:24 Martin from the UK has asked if Button's car has been wearing the "Beluga" nose all day.

No, Button has in fact spent most of the day running a conventional nose.

15:25 Razia makes another big improvement to move into the 1m30s, also jumping ahead of D'Ambrosio on the timesheet

15:27 Heidfeld reckons Red Bull is hiding its potential...

Heidfeld thinks RBR is holding back

15:28 Webber has pitted after 13 laps averaging 1m29.019s. He is on 84 laps with 30 minutes left

15:29 Perez, who is not on track, follows with 80, while Button is third on laps with 74

15:29 Toro Rosso practicing a nose change on Buemi's car

15:31 Petrov sheds a tenth of his best time, posting a 1m25.119s

15:34 With 25 minutes left, Petrov, Razia, di Resta and Buemi share the track, which is still covered by a dark sky

15:35 Luckily for the teams the rain has hold off, but still the temperatures are far from what they were hoping ahead of what it is likely to be a hot Australian Grand Prix

15:36 Di Resta and Petrov have pitted, leaving Buemi and Razia on track

15:36 And Buemi now pits too

15:38 Pedro Costa, and some other readers, ask: Why do the teams test with just one car, are there rules that prevent more than one car per team?

AUTOSPORT's @m_glendenning says: Teams would love to be able to run both cars in testing - not only would it double the amount of data they could collect, but it would also lessen the pain a little if one of the cars developed a problem.

But as you guessed, the regulations prevent them from doing so. The single-car restriction was introduced for the start of the 2007 season.

15:39 Razia has pitted as Webber has jumped onto the track

Dark sky15:40 This is what the Barcelona sky looks like

15:41 Perez joins Webber on track. 81 and 86 laps respectively

15:42 Toro Rosso reports to be working on race simulations and pitstop practice

15:44 Perez moves up to third in the Sauber. The Mexican has posted a 1m24.117s

15:44 Di Resta also sets his best time of the day - a 1m25.039s - moving up to fifth

15:46 Di Resta pits while Perez sets a 1m24.9s on the second lap of his run

15:46 It's only him and Webber alone on track again, the Australian now running strongly in the 1m24s on the fourth lap of his run

15:47 Perez pits after two timed laps, as Razia and Buemi go out for another run

15:48 Webber drives into the pits for some pitstop practice

15:50 Razia's 1m26.723s sees the Lotus driver edge further away from D'Ambrosio

15:50 As Webber completes another pitstop practice

15:50 Ninety-two laps for the Australian with 10 minutes left

15:52 Di Resta sets his best time of the day with a lap of 1m25.039s

15:53 Third pitstop practice in a row for Webber, now with front wing problem and steering wheel change included

15:53 Toro Rosso is also practicing pitstops, changing the front wing of Buemi's car

15:54 As Sergio Perez moves to the top of the times

15:55 The Sauber driver has shot to the head of the timesheet with the first lap in the 1m21s seen this year at Barcelona: 1m21.176s

15:55 That is 1.5 seconds quicker than the best time set by Felipe Massa last week at Barcelona

15:57 It goes to show how much the top teams are holding back during testing.

Or does it show that the Sauber is the car to beat this year?

15:58 Petrov has also improved, moving into the 1m22s with the Renault

15:59 Red flag

15:59 And that's probably the end of the session too

16:00 Razia has stopped at Turn 14

16:01 We are waiting for confirmation that the session is over, as there just around a minute left when the Lotus stopped

16:03 Perez may have jumped the chicane to set his time

16:03 As his final sector was two seconds quicker than anybody else

16:04 The chequered flag is out and the session is over, pending the confirmation of Perez's time

Sergio Perez16:05 Our live coverage is over for the day, but keep checking the website for confirmation on today's times

16:06 Thank you for tuning in. More tomorrow from 9am CET

P Driver Team Time
1  PerezSauber 1m21.176s
2  WebberRed Bull 1m22.544s  +1.368
3  ButtonMcLaren 1m22.910s  +1.734
4  PetrovRenault 1m22.937s  +1.761
5  HeidfeldRenault 1m24.735s  +3.559
6  Di RestaForce India 1m25.039s  +3.863
7  ValsecchiLotus 1m25.406s  +4.230
8  BuemiToro Rosso 1m26.004s  +4.828
9  HulkenbergForce India 1m26.030s  +4.854
10  RaziaLotus 1m26.723s  +5.547
11  D'AmbrosioVirgin 1m32.060s  +10.884
All timing unofficial. Updated: 16:03 GMT
Overcast High Temp: 16°C / 61°F
Track: Dry
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