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As it happened: Test day three
By Pablo Elizalde, Matt Beer and Jamie O'Leary
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
07:56 Good morning - it's early, it's quite cold, it's Spain. Welcome to AUTOSPORT Live's coverage of day three from Barcelona, as 2012 Formula 1 winter testing passes its halfway point (yes, already).

08:00 Green flag at Catalunya and we're away.

08:00 Temperature watch: 10 degrees on track, 3 in the air.

08:01 Fan watch: Three of them. Good morning to the fans.

08:01 Fan banner watch: No new additions.

08:01 As we arrived this morning, Red Bull was incessantly practicing pitstops - rolling up, changing wheels and then repeating.

08:02 Caterham's Vitaly Petrov leads out Marussia's Timo Glock - the latter getting his first day of pre-season testing. Charles Pic will resume control tomorrow.

08:02 Big changeover today as the majority of teams gave one driver the first two days and are now swapping to his team-mate.

08:03 Sure enough out come a load of men making their first appearance of the week: Paul di Resta for Force India, Pastor Maldonado for Williams, Mark Webber for Red Bull, Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso and Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber.

08:03 Kobayashi is first to stay out, but this is likely to be a two-lap installation run not a flying lap.

08:04 Felipe Massa comes out for Ferrari.

08:04 Just Jenson Button's McLaren and Michael Schumacher's Mercedes yet to make an appearance.

08:08 Everyone is now back in the pits after their installation laps and it's still only the Mercedes we haven't seen.

08:09 To fill you in if you've been away for a while, 10 teams present here. Lotus had to go home after a 'chassis issue' on day one and HRT is yet to pass its crash tests.

08:09 Everyone who is here has a 2012 car except Marussia, which is using the 2011 Virgin mostly to give Pic some mileage, though Glock is at the wheel today.

08:10 Speaking of Glock, he doesn't like silent tracks so he heads back out for Marussia.

08:11 Should clarify that although the chassis drama has caused Lotus to take its car back to base for urgent work, the team and its hospitality are still present, and will be feeding AUTOSPORT at lunchtime. Sam Tremayne has his eye on what would've been Kimi Raikkonen's pasta.

08:11 Now here comes Schumacher to complete our set for the morning, as Glock comes back in.

08:12 As usual, still no times on the board yet.

08:12 So as usual, we're going to use these minutes to plug a load of content...

08:12 Firstly, yesterday's report for anyone who missed the action:

Hulkenberg on top at Barcelona

08:14 Yesterday's highlight was Red Bull and McLaren doing comparable race simulations at the same time, giving us a chance to try and draw some conclusions about the likely title rivals' form.

08:14 AUTOSPORT's F1 editor @eddstrawF1 went trackside, and AUTOSPORT Plus subscribers can read his observations here:

Red Bull & McLaren: Too close to call

08:15 And here is Sam Tremayne's analysis in our testing blog:

Inside testing: Barcelona day two

08:20 The circuit remains quiet, so this seems a good time to invite you to send any burning questions you have about testing so far to, and we'll put some to our expert teams at Barcelona and back at base.

08:22 It's a slow start this morning, even the media are wandering in late.

08:22 A few teams said they didn't run much yesterday because of the cold - maybe similar thoughts this morning?

08:22 Although just as we say that...

08:22 Di Resta braves the cold and heads out in the Force India, followed by Maldonado in the Williams.

08:23 Yesterday Williams gave its test and reserve driver Valtteri Bottas a full day of running. The GP3 champion reckoned it went well:

Bottas ready to deliver for Williams

08:25 First lap of the day: a 1m35.126s from di Resta.

08:26 Kobayashi snuck out as well and comes around to start his own flyer.

08:27 The Sauber goes top with a 1m29.703s.

08:27 Sauber does tend to get down to business quicker than most in the mornings.

08:27 Maldonado commences his day's work with a 1m31.661s.

08:27 Button is also on the track, and here comes Webber too.

08:29 The Red Bull crew did another practice stop just before he went out.

08:29 Kobayashi improves to 1m28.042s now.

08:30 And now Kobayashi gets down to 1m26.975s.

08:32 Webber does another practice pitstop and rejoins.

08:33 @eddstrawF1 has news from Mercedes: Yesterday's problem was a gearbox issue. The team was disappointed to miss out on running but is content with progress overall and planning a race simulation if all goes well.

08:34 Kobayashi continues to set the standard with a new benchmark of 1m25.974s.

08:34 As Sam Tremayne generously gives @eddstrawF1 half his breakfast.

08:35 Several drivers logging their first flying laps of the day now: a 1m30.376s from Schumacher, 1m31.471s from Glock and 1m38.806s from Vergne.

08:35 And another practice pitstop from Red Bull.

08:38 Vergne jumps to second on a 1m29.024s.

08:39 Tyre watch: the majority are running mediums, except Glock and Kobayashi on softs, while Webber switched from hards to softs at Red Bull's latest practice stop.

08:39 Webber and Button now go back out.

08:40 Vergne closes on Kobayashi with a 1m27.948s, but is still 2s off the Sauber.

08:41 Another improvement from Vergne, down to 1m27.003s and now just over a second behind Kobayashi.

08:42 Petrov heads out on track as Massa comes round for his first flying lap.

08:46 Massa does a 1m28.466s this time around and goes third.

08:46 As Petrov jumps to fourth with a 1m29.242s.

08:47 Just the Ferrari and Caterham on the circuit at the moment.

08:51 Glock and current pacesetter Kobayashi set off again.

08:51 Slight improvement from Massa as he does a 1m28.197s, staying in third.

08:54 Vergne heads out for Toro Rosso.

08:54 Webber and Button are yet to set a time - and when you consider that Webber has done 11 laps, that's an indication of how hard Red Bull is working on pitstop practice.

08:55 Massa comes back in.

08:55 We've now passed the halfway point of F1 2012's winter testing season with just six more days at Barcelona to go across the next week and a half.

08:56 So as well as sending your questions into, we'd also like you to let us know what have been your highlights and lowlights of testing so far - whether it's incidents, performances, or off-track antics.

09:01 One hour down now, and it's Kobayashi fastest for Sauber on a 1m25.974s, a second clear of Vergne. Massa, Petrov, Glock, Maldonado, Schumacher and di Resta are next up, while Webber and Button haven't done any flying laps yet.

09:01 Kobayashi and Glock have been busiest with 16 and 15 laps apiece, Button has the lowest tally with just four installation laps.

09:02 Maldonado jumps to second on a 1m26.242s, 0.2s off pacesetter Kobayashi.

09:02 Maldonado's time including the day's best in sector two.

09:03 Webber leaves the pits again, so will we see a flying lap from the Red Bull now?

09:03 Maldonado goes quickest on a 1m25.565s.

09:04 Vergne comes into the pits, engine off and is rolled into the garage.

09:05 Maldonado improves his time to 1m25.419s, as Webber starts off with a 1m26.643s to go third.

09:06 Another mid 1m25s for Maldonado, again with a new overall best in S2

09:07 Webber has posted his first time of the day: a 1m26.643s

09:08 And the Australian improves on the following lap, moving to the top of the times

09:08 That didn't last long, as Kobayashi's 1m25.257s puts him on top

09:08 Now Webber lowers the benchmark again, this time with a 1m25.082s

09:09 The Red Bull driver is fastest overall in S1

09:10 Have we said something about Webber lowering the benchmark? No? Good. Because he's done it again, setting a 1m24.835s

09:10 Oh, and you guessed it, fastest in S1 again

09:11 Button completes his first timed lap of the day to jump up to fourth

09:11 As Webber pits

09:12 Kobayashi, Button and Massa are out on track at the moment

09:12 Webber's times was set on hards. Massa is running on softs

09:13 Both Button and Kobayashi have improved, the Japanese moving up to second and the Briton to third

09:14 Schumacher drives the Mercedes out of the pits

09:15 The German completes his first lap of the run and goes quickest, with purple in S2 and S3

09:16 Schumacher is over half a second quicker than Webber now

09:17 A 1m24.604s on the following lap for Schumacher

09:17 @OfficialSF1Team: #Kamui is busy with set up work this morning, all is going well with #C31.

09:18 @Marussia_F1Team: Timo has completed 15 laps and heads off for a few more as he works through an evaluation of the full range of 2012 Pirelli P-Zeros today

09:19 Massa and Glock have joined Schumacher on track

09:20 Plenty of emails about your highs and lows from testing so far

09:20 Bala wrote: The highs of this testing so for for me is the Iceman's F1 return. The lows to me is seeing Ferrari not up to the expected level in this testing - A Hardcore Ferrari Fan

09:21 Schumacher's time was set on hards, by the way

09:22 Dries, who is very wise, wrote: The highlight of testing so far has been your coverage! Insightful and funny! Keep up the good work!

Why thanks!

09:22 Maldonado heads out of the pits in the Williams

09:23 @InsideFerrari: Today's programme is not too different from the previous days. We still have a lot to work on the car but we're moving forward.

09:24 Leander wrote: Highlight: Finding commentary from the track!!!... Lotus pace out of the box. Lowlight: Lotus having to back out

09:25 Speaking of that, we are hearing Lotus may add a day of private testing in the final test after having to withdraw from this one

09:25 Massa pits for Ferrari

09:25 Maldonado gets down to a 1m24.993s - the first time the FW34 has posted a sub-1m25s time here at Barcelona

09:27 Schumacher, meanwhile, is already on the ninth lap of the current run, now lapping in the 1m27s. He's still on the same hard tyres he set the fastest time with

09:28 Green for Vergne (1m25.191s) and Glock (1m29.358s)

09:28 Interestingly (or not) Webber's S1 time is comparable to yesterday's best

09:29 Glock heads into the pits, as Vergne posts a new overall fastest in S1

09:29 He's up to second now with a 1m24.625s

09:29 Mediums for Vergne

09:31 Twelve laps already for Schumacher in this run

09:32 Both the German and Vergne are on 20 laps at the moment

09:33 Maldonado and Schumacher pit

09:33 Schumacher has completed a 12-lap run averaging 1m26.333s

09:33 Webber keeps Vergne company though as he heads out of the pits

09:34 But Vergne wants none of it though and heads into the pits

09:35 So it's only Webber on track right now

09:36 More from the Live inbox

Paul writes: Highlights: Kimi back in an F1 car & Autosport coverage trying to inject a little humour and excitement to the proceedings.

Lowlights: Ferrari do not appear great & Caterham do not appear to have moved up as much as I hoped & knowing it’s stupid trying to guess form from testing

09:37 A 1m26.250s for Webber

09:38 And now a 1m25.909s for the Australian, still alone on track

09:39 Temperature creeping almost to eight degrees now

09:40 More importantly, track temperature up to 20, and still no wind at all

09:40 Massa and Kobayashi jump onto the track too

09:41 As we said earlier, Lotus is get to get an extra day of running in the final test after having pulled out this week:

Lotus set to get extra day of running

09:42 Webber pits, for real this time, not for a pitstop

09:42 A 1m24.771s is Massa's best time of the day, moving him up to third

09:44 @Marussia_F1Team: Timo is out of the car for a while for a routine brake change

09:45 A 1m25.179s for Massa on the 25th lap of the day

09:46 And now a 1m25.188s for the Brazilian

09:46 As Button heads out

09:47 Massa is running on hards

09:48 Button is on medium. Kobayashi and Maldonado on softs

09:49 Banner watch has left us disappointed today. Alguersuari banner is still there, but a few Alonso ones have gone (figures, as he's not here anymore). And there's a new one, very small, rooting for Schumacher

09:49 Button moves up to sixth with a 1m25.087s

09:50 Maldonado sets his personal best - 1m24.605s - to jump up to second

09:51 Button improves too, this time posting a 1m24.986s. He stays sixth though

09:51 Vergne completes his out lap and onto his first flier of the run

09:53 More mail incoming

David writes: Testing highlight: (commentary on the Heikki spin) and talk of low loaders! Also news that Ferrari may be slower; I really want to see Schumi on the podium this year!

Testing Low: Knowing that Autosport's coverage is coming to an end, very sad :(

We say: We are not that sad!

09:54 John writes: The high for me is the excitement and detail of your live feed; the low is that the commentary seems to be somewhat delayed compared to to lap times chart. Is that because of the technical set-up?

We say: We have to see the timing screens before we can type something!

09:55 Maldonado, Vergne, Massa and Button are on track. Their times are not too great at the moment

09:55 Now Vergne and Button come into the pits

09:56 Watercolours wrote: The high of this testing season is to see McLaren having a promising testing for the first time since 2008 and low is not being able to see Kimi's performance on this 2nd testing week

We say: We got a lot of mail saying the same thing about Kimi

09:56 Maldonado pits, and so does Massa

09:57 Not a great sign that on this far into testing, Ferrari is still doing so much baseline aero work

09:57 The track is left empty

09:58 So a good moment to post more responses sent to the Live inbox

Uday wrote: Highpoints – The start of F1 season 2012, Return of Kimi, Positive growth & development of Force India! Also the wonderful commentary by Autosport!

Lowpoints – All 12 F1 teams not taking part in the testing!

09:58 We promise we are not screening. Most emails are actually praising Live..

10:00 Borbély wrote: My highlights of the testing season so far: your commentary (especially that of Sam), that Bruno Senna and Paul di Resta answered my questions (thanks), the different helmets of Sebastian Vettel.

10:00 Kobayashi heads out, breaking the silence

10:01 Pedro from Portugal says: Highlight: “Kimi is back!!!” and lowlight: the tests show there won´t be fight for the title, Vettel will rule. Thank you for the magnificent coverage.

Our pleasure!

10:02 Not much action on track, as only Kobayashi is still there

10:02 But here's a nice picture of Red Bull's rear end

10:03 Di Resta heads out of the pits in the Force India after a good while in the garage. He has managed just nine laps so far

10:03 Marussia has been making a few changes to the brakes recently, and Glock leaves the pits for another run

10:04 @H_Kovalainen: Went to circuit for breakfast, now morning workout done and heading back to the circuit for lunch! Our chefs make amazing food!

Could you bring us something while you are at it?

10:05 Di Resta running on medium tyres. He's yet to set c competitive time

10:06 Katelyn says the highlight of testing for her has been the updates on the food situation.

Don't worry, then, plenty of that to come over the next two days.

10:06 Di Resta has set his best time of the day, but it's a slow 1m30.511s

10:08 Andre has asked: Any news from the F1 teams about their lunch options yet?

No, unfortunately nothing. They are busy with preparing their cars to go racing. Crazy, we know.

10:08 A 1m29.409s for di Resta. Still the slowest time of the day

10:09 @eddstrawF1: Have to say, the Pirelli tyre markings still aren't clear enough.

So you are warned

10:10 Schumacher is back out

10:11 Richard asks: I've not had a chance to see the new 'stepped' noses in person yet, but tell me; are they as noticeable and dramatic as Sam Tremayne's ears?

Poor Sam, leave him alone.

(The answer is no)

10:12 It's Schumacher, Maldonado and di Resta on track at the moment

10:12 The Venezuelan is on softs

10:13 Amit, a long-time Live follower, writes: Highlight: Following the tests on Autosport Live

Lowlight: Following the tes ts on Autosport Live while I should be working!

We blame Ecclestone, for example.

10:13 Schumacher goes even quicker: a 1m24.176s

10:14 Maldonado has also improved, closing the gap to Schumacher to 0.361s

10:15 We are not sure what tyres Schumacher is on. Out the window it looks like hards, but it could be a poorly painted super soft

10:15 Which is why we can't have tyres on the timesheet, as so, so, so many of you have requested

10:16 Glock is back out on track

10:17 The Marussia driver has improved to a 1m28.507s to jump ahead of Petrov

10:18 Another slow start to the day for the Russian, who had managed just eight laps so far

10:19 And back to what we were saying before: the process of checking what tyres a driver is on is basically looking out the window and hoping to be able to spot him and figure out what tyres he's on. It's not an easy task, especially while typing.

We hope that clears it!

10:20 Having said that, Glock is on mediums, like Button. Schumacher is on hards (for real) and Maldonado is on softs

10:20 Hooray for us, we may add

10:21 Vergne heads out in the Toro Rosso

10:21 @OfficialSF1Team: #Kamui is still running used tyres. Checking how to improve the warm up procedure for the front tyres.

10:22 More from the Live inbox

Peter wrote: The highlight for me so far is the fact, that most of the cars aren't act ually that ugly as they first seemed to be, and also your great and at times funny commentary. Making my days in work much more enjoyable :)

The lows for me are that not all of the teams have made it to the tests, that Red Bull is looking very strong again and that Caterham seems to be outside of the main field just as it were year before :(

10:23 Vergne is on medium tyres

10:24 Only Schumacher and the Frenchman are on track now. The German lapping in the 1m26s

10:25 Vergne improves to a 1m24.580s. Third fastest time of the day

10:27 Another improvement for the Vergne (that's how you spell it.. ) to move up to second

10:28 Martin wrote: Highlights: seeing the silver arrow back in action. MSC in the top three in Australia would be awesome. Second Highlight is that the midfield teams seem to be quite equal fast. Third one: KIMI!

Lowlight: RB again really really good. Waiting for Australia ;)

10:28 Schumacher pits after a nine-lap run averaging 1m26.833s, leaving Vergne alone on track

10:30 Matt writes: Just wanted to say, thanks to the Autosport team for providing this great coverage! You've got me hooked and it is a fantastic distraction from the past few day's data-entry requirements at work!

Highlights so far: McLaren and Red Bull are close with Ferrari struggling and Mercedes looking good.

Lowlights: Lotus going home early with Williams and Caterham not looking as good as I would have hoped!

10:30 An engine fires up at the sharp end of the pitlane

10:30 But our hopes are dashed as it's turned back off

10:31 Vergne pits, but di Resta keeps the action going by leaving his garage

10:33 Seventeen laps for di Resta so far, the Scot still sitting at the bottom of the times

10:33 Plenty of photographers outside the McLaren garage, suggesting Button may be going out

10:34 But we can't see in without creating an elaborate mirror set-up though, so we'll just have to wait

10:34 Di Resta improves to go eighth fastest

10:36 Dries asks: Did any of the teams tell you what the drivers had for lunch yesterday, or will they all have a horrible season this year?

Horrible year for all, we are afraid.

10:36 Di Resta pits and leaves the track empty

10:37 Red flag

10:37 All cars are back in the pits, but there seems to be chunk of engine cover on the track. Possibly quite a large chunk

10:38 And the green flag is out again

10:38 Kobayashi heads out straight away

10:39 Mick writes: Highlight...... The bonus comedy act we get with testing!

Lowlight........ My questions didn't get a run.

We say: We have some 500 unread emails. We are sorry!

10:39 Looks like Kobayashi is on super softs

10:41 Hopefully the Japanese driver will complete a run we can write about

10:42 Claudio writes: Highs: Red Bull seemingly not as dominant as last year. Ferrari are rubbish, yay! Lotus seemed awesome at Jerez, which is great as I'm both a Kimi and a Grosjean fan, and they both looked ON IT.

Lows: Cars hilariously hideous. Lotus finds a severe car issue, ruining my hopes of a sensational title bid. HRT and Marussia's new cars nowhere to be seen. Not enough reshuffling of the grid, I'd have liked something ridiculous like Caterham fighting for podiums.

10:44 A former AUTOSPORT staff member has sent us this rather amusing message you may or may not get:

I feel sorry for poor Sam and all the abuse he's receiving this week. Like Bruno, Jacques and Damon before him, he's doing his level best to live up to a far superior family name in his field .

10:44 Kobayashi has completed a 1m27.872s lap

10:44 As Glock leaves the pits for another run

10:45 We can confirm that there is some weather here in Barcelona: It's 10.8C air, 26.1C track.

10:45 Westerly wind that seems to fluctuate between zero and 5mph. Late on, we predict it will get dark as a result of the Earth's rotation. Sources indicate that the Earth is roughly an oblate spheroid

10:46 Now back on track...

Kobayashi did an aero run down the start/finish straight

10:46 @MyCaterhamF1: We found a front suspension issue after Vitaly's first proper run this morning that's now nearly fixed - should be back out soon

10:47 Kobayashi pits

10:47 As Glock improves with a 1m27.177s

10:48 Button leaves the pits in the McLaren

10:49 Krasimir said: Highlight: F1 season finally begins with the winter testing and with 6 WDC on the grid.

Lowlight: All the beauty talks on performance competition... isn't that just nonsense?! Well, I`m glad I am McLaren fan these days, don`t get me wrong. :)))

10:49 You can still mail us your testing highs and lows to and we'll try to use them here

10:49 Vergne is also back on track now

10:50 Button and Vergne are using Pirelli's medium tyres

10:51 Button improves to a 1m24.469s

10:51 That moves him up a place to third

10:52 Kobayashi has been doing some runs on used tyres of late. Sauber working on improving the tyre warm-up procedures. That was a major weakness for them last year that caused problems in qualifying

10:53 Kid wrote: Highlight so far: Force India looking really astounding, but we all remember last year's Williams performance during testing...

Lowlight: Ferrari seeming to struggle, even predictions about mileage on the next day can't be fulfilled, should we start worrying?

10:53 Vergne pits and leaves Button and Maldonado on track

10:54 Maldonado improves to a 1m23.338s to go fastest

10:55 We will check his tyres next time he comes round

10:55 Paul says: Highlights: reading your fab commentary whilst practicing bass guitar for a tour (and also drawing parallels between F1 testing and bass practice!).

Lowlights: having a pain in the bum from sitting playing bass guitar whilst reading Autosport live every day of testing!

You can't have it all...

10:57 Eric from Canada writes: Highs - Performance of the Torro Rosso & the Force India!

Lows: - No pitlane babes!

But we do plan to send Edd Straw out with a mini-skirt.

10:57 Button pits as Schumacher heads out, joining Maldonado on track

10:58 Maldonado was on mediums when he set his fastest time

10:58 Now the Williams driver pits

10:59 @InsideFerrari: It is a long break for a mechanical issue. We hope we can go back on track before the lunch break.

11:00 Massa has completed 33 laps so far as we enter the final hour before the lunch break, during which we hope an F1 team will feed us something good

11:01 Kobayashi improves, jumping up to second

11:01 1m23.582s for the Japanese Sauber driver, just two tenths behind Maldonado

11:02 Adam wrote: My high is working for Mercedes and seeing that our new car has potential. My low is having not long left Force India and seeing them looking like they may do better than expected.

11:03 Schumacher improves too. Both him and Kobayashi are running soft tyres

11:03 Schumacher was fastest overall in S1:. 21.540s

11:03 Glock is back out, and it looks like Caterham should be out any minute after earlier suspension woes

11:04 A 1m24.581s now Kobayashi, who is on the 46th lap of the day

11:05 The red flag is out

11:05 Kobayashi, Schumacher and Glock were out on track

11:05 The Japanese is back into the pits

11:06 And Schumacher too

11:06 So it's either Glock or some debris on track

11:07 Nope. Glock now returns to the pits

11:07 The mystery will not be solved, as the green flag is out

11:08 One theory is that Glock stopped and then managed to keep going

11:09 @OfficialSF1Team: #Kamui did 48 laps - more than anybody else so far today. With a new set of soft tyres he also improved his lap time.

11:10 Force India has confirmed that di Resta did lose part of the engine cover earlier.

Earlier as in the previous red flag, not the latest one

11:10 Nobody on track at the moment

11:10 @MyCaterhamF1: Vitaly's back in and we're set to get back on track.

11:11 And even more from the Live inbox

Sidharth writes: Highlight - Kimi's performance on the opening day!

Lowlight - HRT not getting a car ready in time in 2012as well, and also not giving Karthikeyan a taste of the new tyres!!

11:12 Petrov is finally back on track

11:12 Only eight laps for the Caterham driver so far due to a problem with his car's suspension

11:13 Chris writes: Highs: Formula 1 cars back on track. Everything's a high.

Lows: There are no lows in F1.

We are pretty sure some teams would disagree with that...

11:14 For all you Petrov fans, here what he has to say about not being a pay driver in this week's AUTOSPORT magazine, available digitally here

11:14 We have Maldonado and Button out on track now

11:14 Petrov is running on mediums

11:14 Button and Maldonado on softs

11:15 @clubforce: We will take an early lunch today and Paul should be back out after the break.

11:16 Maldonado has gone even quicker and he's now nearly a full second ahead of his closest rival

11:17 A 1m22.612s for the Williams driver

11:17 That's just 0.006 seconds slower than Hulkenberg's best from yesterday

11:18 Maldonado was running on soft tyres during that lap

11:19 A 1m23.359s for the Venezuelan now

11:19 Schumacher makes a small improvement: to a 1m24.053s, still fourth

11:19 Petrov heads back out again

11:20 Maldonado and Schumacher come back into the pits

11:20 Button, Petrov and Vergne still out

11:21 Vergne sets his personal best in the speed trap at 284.2km/h

11:22 Button returns to the pits

11:23 Petrov jumps ahead of di Resta with a 1m26.929s

11:24 Yerlan writes: The highlight is Kimi's form.

The lows - Lotus chassis "saga" and the fact that nothing has changed at the very head of the "pecking order" with McLaren having another chance of becoming best of the rest. Oh yeah... they will win F1's beauty contest once again this year... wonder if that's what they really want.

11:24 Kobayashi and his Sauber are back on track

11:25 Taimur wrote: High: Watching the new Ferrari out on track. I've been waiting for Ferrari to at least take some sort of a gamble. And also, seeing Kimi getting back in to the groove relatively easily.

Low: Being thrown out of class for following Autosport's live commentary of Jerez on my cell. But I'm following each word again in the same class. F1 forever!

We say: Good, good. You have to have priorities.

11:27 Just Petrov and Kobayashi running at the moment

11:27 Andy writes: Highs: Seeing a Williams Renault on track again

Lows: Suspicion it may be another dog – let’s hope not!

11:28 Schumacher heads out of the pits for another run in the Mercedes

11:29 Dave will be pleased again: Highs - getting my 'fun fact' about Bottas mentioned yesterday, lots of cars looking quick and quite close in laptimes

Lows - No one has found out the real reason behind the Red Bull slot...driver cooling my ass! Oh and realising testing laptimes actually mean bugger all..

11:30 Nothing too important going on on track as we enter the final 30 minutes of the morning session

11:31 Of the men running now, Petrov is on mediums, and Kobayashi is on softs, like Schumacher

11:31 The seven-time champion goes second quickest with a 1m23.384s

11:31 He still over seven tenths slower than Maldonado though

11:32 Petrov pits and his team reports:

@MyCaterhamF1: Run 4 done - Vitaly's reporting that there was quick big drop off on the rear tyres on the last couple of laps but good balance

11:33 Schumacher did his best sector in all three sectors on that lap

11:33 Kobayashi is back into the pits

11:33 Ferrari reports to be ready to go back out after the long break

11:34 Maldonado goes even quicker

11:34 A 1m22.391s for the Williams driver. That's the fastest time so far this week

11:35 He is now nearly a full second ahead of Schumacher

11:35 Glock goes out for another run

11:36 Maldonado's run was done on super softs

11:37 Do you need a guide to remember the tyre colour codes. Here's one:

11:37 Update on the earlier Glock-inspired red flag: He had some kind of off but recovered. No car problems

11:39 Massa finally heads out

11:39 He and Glock are alone on track

11:39 Now Button decides to join them

11:39 Ferrari had reported earlier the long break was down to a mechanical issue

11:41 Twenty minutes to the lunch break. We can't wait. Really

11:41 Soft tyres for Button

11:42 F3 Masters winner Felix Rosenqvist is also following Live, apparently:

Highs: McLaren state to have a better start than last year.

Lows: No one knows anything about anything before Q1 in Melbourne.

11:42 Button improves to a 1m23.918s that keeps him in fourth

11:44 Selim writes: Highs: we don't see Bernie on TV.

Lows: We can't watch tests on TV.

But you have us!

11:45 Massa lapping in the 1m25s. Button has posted a 1m24.3

11:46 Button has pitted now, leaving Massa as the only man on track

11:47 No, Button is back out straight away

11:49 Pravin writes to remind us of Martin Brundle's way of remembering the tyre codes:

From hard to soft, think Knife (sliver), Bread (white), Butter (yellow), Jam (red).

We find that more difficult than looking at the graphic, but hey!

11:49 Schumacher heads back out, as do Glock and Petrov

11:51 Gael writes: High: Williams Renault, Force India and Jean Eric Vergne looking very strong.

Low: It is not going to last very long. Ferrari where it was before Todt turned up: nowhere!!!

11:52 Glock sets his personal best: a 1m26.173s

11:53 Tyre watch: Massa on hard, Petrov on mediums, Schumacher on softs, Glock on super softs, Kobayashi on softs

11:53 Massa did another constant speed aero run down the main straight (a reasonably slow one as well)

11:54 And then he pitted

11:55 It looks like Kobayashi will be the busiest man this morning, having completed 56 so far

11:55 Petrov on a quick lap now. Looks set to improve

11:56 Or not

11:56 A 1m27.807s for the Russian

11:57 Glock pits with four minutes of the session left

11:57 Red flag

11:58 Schumacher, Kobayashi, Massa and Petrov were on track

11:58 Schumacher and Massa are back

11:58 Petrov too

11:59 Apparently it's Kobayashi who has caused the red flag, as he's not back in the pits

11:59 Indeed, the Sauber is stopped at Turn 4

11:59 Sauber reports it was a fuel run-out test

12:01 The session will not be restarted now, so we go into the lunch break

12:02 So Pastor Maldonado in the Williams ends the third morning of testing on top, nearly a second ahead of Schumacher

12:02 We will be back in an hour after we have stretched our legs and ingested some food. See you then!

12:55 Legs suitably stretched and bellies nice and full, and we're back and ready for the afternoon's running to commence.

12:59 @noblef1 says #Valtteri BOTTAS is now trending! Here's why in all probablity. From AUTOSPORT magazine on April 8, 2010.

13:01 Green flag and we're ready for more of the same...

13:03 To recap on this morning, Pastor Maldonado was quickest in his Williams, almost a second clear of Michael Schumacher's Mercedes. You can see all the times on the right hand side of this page, which will be updated instantly as the day goes on.

13:03 The man with the most laps this morning was Kamui Kobayashi, managing 59 in his Sauber.

13:03 Mark Webber, currently seventh on the timesheets, leaves the pits and has the track all to himself.

13:04 Remember, you can see all the best images from today - and the rest of the week in our Barcelona testing gallery.

13:05 Paul di Resta takes to the track in his Force India. The former McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner (we do like a good plug) is bottom of the timesheets.

13:06 Webber is straight back into the pits. No flying lap for the Australian just yet...

13:07 But there is one for di Resta, and it's his best of the day; a 1m25.646s lap taking him up two spots to eighth. That's 1.5s quicker than he's been so far today. Still 3.3s off the pace though.

AUTOSPORT cover 23021213:11 By the way, the latest issue of AUTOSPORT magazine is on the shelves today. Read the digital issue or get a free taster of what's inside. This week we have the new Mercedes F1 car under the microscope and a picture special on the German car giant's last 60 years in motorsport.

13:13 Jenson Button is out on track and on his first flying lap of the afternoon.

13:16 It's slow. And so are his next two. None of them breaking the 1m30s mark. His best so far, don't forget, is a 1m23.9s.

13:17 Timo Glock heads out in his 2011 car.

13:18 Earlier on we asked you to send in your testing highs and lows, and we're eager for more. Keep them coming in to

13:22 Mike Young gets in on the #BOTTAS action:

"Testing high: watching Valtteri in action having been driven around at Palmersport (Bedford Autodrome) by him in a modified BMW M3 last year and watching him drift a Caterham all the way down a straight. Seeing Williams put in some competitive times today!

"Testing low: Not having a clue what all this testing will mean come Melbourne."

13:24 Petrov and Maldonado head out on to track.

13:25 There's been a lot of questions on email about the tyres in use today. They're not wets; it's just the way the Pirellis are graining on the circuit.

13:25 Button pits as Webber goes out.

13:25 Only a short stop for the Australian as he heads back out, and is joined by Schumachers' Mercedes.

13:26 Stop the press. Petrov goes quickest in his Caterham!!

13:26 A 1m22.268s lap for the Russian, that's the quickest lap we've seen at Barcelona this week and 0.123s up on Maldonado.

13:27 Time to do a quick screenshot if you're a fan of the Hingham squad.

13:27 Strange scenes down at Red Bull. The crew were out and seemingly expecting Webber to pit, but instead he sails past.

13:28 Remember that old saying; if something looks too good to be true, it probably is? Well strike off that Petrov time. There's an error with the timing system here in Barcelona.

13:29 Apologies for the excitement. The screen resets itself into a 1m27s lap.

13:35 Di Resta and Glock are both heading for the pits.

13:36 Schumacher, Button and Webber are on-track now.

13:37 All three of them lapping in the low 1m30s. Nothing spectacular there.

13:39 More of your highs and lows now. This one from Edward Hardy, from Mark Webber's home town of Queanbeyan, Australia.

High: "Having one of my questions answered by Heikki Kovalainen on (we thank you) and the unveiling of the Red Bull RB8."

Low: "Jarno Trulli's untimely exit from Caterham and F1."

13:40 Interestingly, Webber and Schumacher are lapping on the softs while Button is on the harder mediums.

13:41 George Saxon writes: "High; Petrov and Caterham going quickest in Barcelona testing.

Low: Being told it was a timing error."

13:42 Reminds me of a BTCC qualifying session a couple of years ago when a team's number two driver took his maiden pole. So convinced was the team boss that this was mistake, he went straight to the championship organisers to explain that he thought his team had accidentally mixed up the transponders with the number one driver. He nearly fell over when told that 'nope, there's no mistake. He genuinely was just fast."

13:43 Petrov is back on track incidentally, running in close proximity to Kobayashi's Sauber.

13:46 Petrov's on the soft tyres while it looks like Kobayashi is on supersofts.

13:46 A bit of activity down at Red Bull. Christian Horner is on the pitwall, as are four engineers, all pouring through data.

MArk Webber Red Bull 2012 Barcelona testThey did this yesterday after Vettel completed a race simulation, so that could well be the order of the day for Webber this afternoon too. The Australian is now on his 14th lap of the run.

13:49 @OfficialSF1Team #Kamui is on track for another 5-lap-run. No remarkable lap times expected today. Aero and set up work, data recording...

13:50 Webber pits, but a planned swift stop isn't the order of the day. A problem with a wheel nut - again - slows him down.

13:51 Kobayashi and Petrov are both into the pits now. Just Schumacher, Button, Webber and Glock on-track.

13:53 One for those of you that keep a keen eye on the single-seater situation below F1 now. Nissan is entering British F3 as an engine supplier. Curious as to which team the Japanese manufacturer has chosen?

13:54 Webber is now lapping regularly in the 1m28s, having switched to the hard Pirellis at his last stop a few minutes ago.

13:55 Button, having put in 11 laps - eight of them in the 1m30s - pits, cuts the engine and is rolled back into the garage.

13:55 As that's happening, Maldonado heads back out onto the circuit.

13:58 It's over 20 years since Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya began hosting the Spanish GP. Nigel Mansell won the first race here in 1991 in the fearsome Williams FW14. And yes, that was the race where he made that move on Ayrton Senna.

13:59 Of course, there were world championship grands prix held in the city before that, at Montjuich Park in the 1970s and at Pedralbes in the 1950s.

14:00 Ah, the lesser-spotted Toro Rosso emerges. They like a bit of bull fighting here in Spain, so maybe it was hiding. It's Jean-Eric Vergne's first lap of the afternoon.

14:00 Looks like nothing more than a short systems check though as he heads back in.

14:03 Button is out again and is onto the first flying lap of this run. Medium Pirellis this time.

14:03 They're all emerging now. Felipe Massa ducks out of the pits in his Ferrari and is followed by di Resta's Force India.

14:05 Lotus has confirmed when its extra test days will take place. You'll remember that chassis problems caused the team to withdraw from this test earlier in the week.

14:07 Petrov sets his best time of the day. A 1m27.725s is an improvement of 0.2s, but keeps him down in 10th.

14:07 Vergne heads back out while Maldonado and Glock pit.

14:09 A lot of tyre variety going on this afternoon. Just of the guys on track currently, Schumacher and Petrov are on softs, Button and di Resta on mediums and Webber, Vergne and Massa have hards.

14:12 Everyone bar Glock and Maldonado are on track now.

14:13 And given that we're well into the afternoon running, that might indicate that track conditions are now better than they've been all day. If anybody wants a low-fuel run, now's the time.

14:13 The track itself is 32.2 degrees C, which is a little lower than an hour ago.

14:14 Schumacher completes his 85th lap of the day. Some comfort to Mercedes after hydraulic and gearbox problems cost it track time on Tuesday and Wednesday.

14:16 The questions keep coming in at David Taylor asks: "Just wondered if some teams are sending their cars out behind specific other teams to get visuals on the car or comparison of speed/control through corners"

14:19 @eddstrawf1: "Sometimes you will get teams deliberately parking their cars behind others. Often that's to get a feel of what it's like in the turbulence as well. The way a car will handle in the corners depends a lot on fuel load/tyre condition etc so it would be of limited use to follow someone, although would be of a little interest.

"More significantly, teams will use photographers to get shots of rival cars. Sometimes specific details, or just to take a look in general at the car and its attitude in different corners. There's a lot you can learn from that. Although, again, it's important to remember that a design concept sported by one car isn't necessarily transferable because it has to interact with the whole airflow regime of a car."

14:20 Di Resta completes another lap on mediums. A 1m30.269s, while Webber comes around in the 1m26s - and on hards too!

14:20 Maldonado does a practice start in the pitlane.

14:25 A quick rundown of who's on what tyres at the moment; Webber on the hards, Kobayshi on supersofts, Maldonado and Glock on softs and Vergne on the mediums.

14:26 The questions keep coming in at Benjamin Issatt asks: "I was wondering if the teams will do anything differently at Barcelona than they did at Jerez because the Circuit de Catalunya is also a race venue."

14:29 @eddstrawf1: "They will do nothing specifically different as by dint of the fact they have eight days of running here, there will be time to do everything. The main thing that is different here is that it's a heavily aero-dependent track - even by the standards of a category that is very much dictated by aero - so it's an excellent place for aero work.

"It also has a less abrasive track surface. Jerez has an extremely abrasive surface that does have an influence on how the tyres behave. Inevitably, what they learn here will have use for the Spanish GP. But as the track temperature should (weather permitting) be a fair bit higher, the tiny details that are usually worked on during the race weekends can't be finalised here."

14:29 Vergne pits.

14:30 Lots of heavy fuel work seems to be going on at the moment. Schumacher, for example, is now on lap 97 of the day.

14:32 Only Glock is anywhere near the Mercedes driver on laps completed. The Marussia driver has done 82 of them.

14:32 Sam Tremayne is trackside and reports that Webber is locking his front-left tyre into Turn 5 on virtually every lap.

Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 2012 Barcelona testing14:35 We're deep into the afternoon now, but Barcelona looked stunning this morning, as this view of Kamui Kobayashi from the outside of Turn 2 illustrates perfectly.

14:36 From Turn 2 to Turn 5 and more from AUTOSPORT's intrepid trackside reporter Sam Tremayne, who says Timo Glock got very sideways last time through.

14:42 Some interesting points made by Rubens Barrichello in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT this week. He sees no reason why he won't return to F1 in the future.

14:45 Tyre rundown time: Petrov and Maldonado on softs, Schumacher and Button on hards, Di Resta on mediums.

14:45 Webber's just done two personal best sectors on that lap. The Red Bull driver is on one.

14:48 There's been a lot of lappery today. Even Petrov, who has the least mileage of all, has completed 50 laps.

14:49 Schumacher's now up to 109, and that includes a mammoth 50-lap stint this afternoon, with just a 90 second pitstop in the middle - and a couple of quick tyre changes.

14:50 Massa pits, but heads straight back out again without stopping. Lots of stop/start tyre warm-ups as he goes...

14:50 Webber has overtaken Button somewhere around the top section of the circuit - most likely into the La Caixa hairpin.

14:54 A full practice pitstop for Webber now. All his crew are fully kitted-up and running out at the last minute. There's a problem at the right-rear though. 5.5s says the stopwatch.

14:57 There's a bit of an earnest conversation going on between team principal Christian Horner and team manager Jonathan Wheatley on the pitwall after that stop.

14:57 It's not the first problem with pitstops that Red Bull has suffered today.

14:57 Di Resta is out on mediums - as is Vergne - with Schumacher (he's still out) and Button on the hards. Petrov is on the softs.

15:12 There's been a bit of a lull on track over the past few minutes, so time for another one of your highs and lows.

15:13 Nicolas from Paris says: "High: Only 23 days to go until the first race.

"Low: 23 days to go until the first race!"

15:15 Indicentally, Schumacher's earlier stint stretched to 59 laps - almost a full Barcelona race distance - and featured an average lap time of 1m29.507s.

15:15 @eddstrawf1 reported at the start of the day that Mercedes was planning a race run 'if all went well' in the morning. Fairly safe to say it did then.

15:17 Just 45 minutes to go now and Glock and Button are edging towards a century of laps too. Let's see if they get there.

15:18 Speaking of which... Glock exits the pits. Vergne is also underway now.

15:21 Sure enough, Button crosses the line and that's 100 laps to his name today. Small fry compared to Schumacher's 122 though - that's pretty much double the distance of last year's Spanish GP.

15:22 Webber comes out of the pits as Kobayashi heads in.

15:22 The Australian managed a 38-lap run earlier this afternoon at an average time of 1m28.494s.

15:26 Glock chalks up his 100th lap this time around.

15:26 Maldonado had been out on a 12-lap run, but that comes to an end as he heads for the pits.

15:30 Petrov has only managed 58 laps today - less than half the number of Schumacher.

15:31 He's on track now, and sets his best time of the day; a 1m26.452s. And as he sets that, Button heads for the pits.

15:33 A practice stop for Vergne. Seamless work by the Toro Rosso crew.

15:33 Red Flags.

15:34 It's Webber's Red Bull, which has stopped at Turn 8.

15:36 The red flags aren't stopping Toro Rosso from practicing pitstops. Vergne pulls away but cuts the engine 20 yards later.

15:40 The Red Bull is surrounded by track vehicles. The low-loader is already at the scene.

15:41 The covers are already on the RB8 as the car is loaded onto the back of the truck.

15:42 Air temperature is 21 degrees C now. Hottest it's been all day.

15:43 Incidentally, AUTOSPORT is making the news in Finland now, thanks to our success at getting #BOTTAS as the top trending topic on twitter in the UK earlier on. Should mention, unless you speak fluent Finnish, you'll need a translation machine.

15:44 We're green again!

15:45 With 17 minutes to go Glock is the first heading out.

15:46 The low loader reaches the Red Bull garage with Webber's RB8 being craned off once it stops. Unfortunately for the team, its garage is directly below the press room.

15:46 Webber, Schumacher, di Resta and Massa are the only ones not on track.

15:47 Doubt we'll be seeing the Red Bull again today. Not on track, anyway.

15:50 Schumacher heads out, but keeps the car count at six as Glock pits.

15:51 Petrov goes faster again. The Caterham driver's 1m26.448s lap does nothing for his position overall, but does mean he's found half a second this afternoon.

15:52 Di Resta and Massa head out while Vergne comes in for another practice stop. Eight cars on track now.

15:52 Petrov, incidentally, was on supersofts on that flying lap.

15:56 Massa heads out again.

15:57 Vergne makes yet another practice stop. These Toro Rosso boys will be extremely well-drilled by the end of the day.

15:57 Another set of supersofts for Petrov.

15:57 Schumacher, Button and Petrov all come into the pits now... as Vergne makes another practice stop.

15:58 Red Flags.

15:59 Just a couple of minutes left, so it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the red replaced by the chequer.

16:00 Vergne and Schumacher made it back onto the track before the red flew. Massa is the only other one not to make it back yet.

16:00 Schumacher and Vergne pit, so Massa is the cause.

16:00 The officials put out the chequered flag. That's it for the on-track action today.

16:01 Massa's car stopped at the end of the pitlane, in fact, and is now pounced upon by mechanics draped in red.

16:04 And that's it from AUTOSPORT's live coverage of Barcelona testing today.

16:05 To quickly recap, Pastor Maldonado stays on top after his morning time of 1m22.391s, a second up on Michael Schumacher, who ended up with 127 laps to his name.

16:06 Tomorrow is the final day of the test and we'll be back from 08:00 CET (09:00 GMT) with more live coverage from Barcelona.

16:06 Before that you can catch up with all the latest news, analysis and pictures right here on

16:07 As ever, thanks for logging on, and we'll see you in the morning.

P Driver Team Time
1  MaldonadoWilliams 1m22.391s
2  SchumacherMercedes 1m23.384s  +0.993
3  KobayashiSauber 1m23.582s  +1.191
4  ButtonMcLaren 1m23.918s  +1.527
5  VergneToro Rosso 1m24.433s  +2.042
6  WebberRed Bull 1m24.771s  +2.380
7  MassaFerrari 1m24.771s  +2.380
8  Di RestaForce India 1m25.646s  +3.255
9  GlockMarussia 1m26.173s  +3.782
10  PetrovCaterham 1m26.448s  +4.057
All timing unofficial. Updated: 16:00 GMT
Mainly sunny High Temp: 16°C / 61°F
Track: Dry
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