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Robert Kubica sets Valencia test pace for Renault

Robert Kubica

Kubica hoping to make magic in 2011

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Valencia

Robert Kubica underlined the belief that Renault could be a major force in 2011 with the fastest time of the first Formula 1 pre-season test in Valencia.

The Pole set a lap of one minute 13.144 seconds to beat the previous best - achieved by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso on Wednesday - by 0.163secs.

The final day brought less success for Ferrari, whose driver Felipe Massa lost a day's running following an oil leak.

Mark Webber concentrated on long runs - with impressive speed - for Red Bull.

Kubica refused to get carried by his pace, and said he had had a mixed day because he lost the morning to car problems.

"After we solved the problems with the car we were able to do a little bit of evaluation on the set-up and some tyre work," he said.

SARAH HOLT BLOG

"Unfortunately, because of the morning we were not able to complete our programme. But better to have problems here than in Bahrain (at the first race of the season on 13 March).

"It's impossible to compare the car to last year's, and your feeling depends on how things look when everyone is in the same condition running the same time on the track.

"This we can get only in the Bahrain Grand Prix, so we have to keep pushing and improve the car and solve a couple of issues we had here in Valencia."

Webber's headline lap time of 1:13.936 was 0.792secs off Kubica's pace, and 0.3secs adrift of team-mate Sebastian Vettel's Wednesday mark.

But a 20-lap run in the middle of the day looked particularly strong, and Red Bull - like Ferrari - look in good shape so far.

The Australian was fourth fastest overall and the second fastest 2011 car, with Massa just behind him.

The Brazilian's day suffered an early set-back when he spun on oil leaking from his own car after a clamp broke. The car caught fire and Massa missed more than four hours' running while Ferrari mechanics repaired the damage.

Michael Schumacher

Schumacher happy with first impressions

Despite the delay, Massa still managed to complete 80 laps on Thursday.

And technical director Aldo Costa said he was pleased with the work Ferrari had done in Valencia, adding that there would be major performance developments before the season starts in Bahrain on 13 March.

"Looking only at our car, yes we are happy," Costa said.

"From a mechanical point of view, the car from here and Jerez will be almost complete but from the aerodynamic point of view there will be further evolutions.

"It needs to be a very balanced approach to be a fast and winning car.

"We know what we have developed from a performance view in the week, we know what we have got from our end to continue the development so we think that we are pushing as much as we can."

Force India's Adrian Sutil was second fastest overall to Kubica, just 0.057secs behind the Renault, with Jenson Button third for McLaren, both men using modified versions of their team's 2010 cars.

McLaren unveil their new car in Berlin on Friday, while Force India's will appear at next week's second test in Jerez.

Timo Glock managed sixth fastest time in the 2010 Virgin, who are unveiling their new car on Monday, with the two rookies in the field, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams and Sauber's Mexican Sergio Perez, seventh and eighth, ahead of Michael Schumacher's Mercedes and Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said he was optimistic about the new Mercedes's performance, while admitting it was not yet as fast as the pace-setters.

Felipe Massa's Ferrari catches fire

Massa's Ferrari catches fire

Schumacher said it was impossible to make comparisons between this year's car and the 2010 Mercedes because of the regulation changes.

These include the reintroduction of Kers energy recovery and power-boost systems, a moveable rear wing to help overtaking, the banning of the controversial double diffuser , and a new tyre supplier, with Pirelli taking over from Bridgestone.

The 42-year-old, who had a disappointing comeback in 2010, vowed to approach his second season at Mercedes with "full attack".

Lotus did do some running with their new car, but power-steering problems restricted Jarno Trulli to data-gathering work and the Italian veteran did not record a lap time.


Valencia Formula 1 test, fastest times, final day:

1 Robert Kubica (Pol) Renault one minute 13.144 seconds
2 Adrian Sutil* (Ger) Force India-Mercedes 1:13.201
3 Jenson Button* (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1:13.553
4 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:13.936
5 Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:14.017
6 Timo Glock* (Ger) Virgin-Cosworth 1:14.207
7 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Cosworth 1:14.229
8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:14.469
9 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes 1:14.537
10 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:14.801
11 Narain Karthikeyan* (Ind) Hispania-Cosworth 1:16.535
12 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus-Renault no time

* = 2010 car

Day two:

1. Fernando Alonso (Ita) Ferrari 1m13.307s
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault 1m13.614s
3. Paul di Resta* (GB) Force India-Mercedes 1m13.844s
4. Lewis Hamilton* (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1m14.353s
5. Kubica 1m14.412s
6. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1m14.645s
7. Glock* 1m15.408s
8. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Williams-Cosworth 1m16.023s
9. Perez 1m16.198s
10. Maldonado 1m16.266s
11. Buemi 1m16.359s
12. Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.474s
13. Webber 1m17.365s
14. Karthikeyan 1m17.769s
15. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus-Renault 1m20.649s

* 2010 car

Day one:

1 Vettel 1:13.769
2 Nico Hulkenberg* (Ger) Force India-Mercedes 1:13.938s
3 Gary Paffett* (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.292
4 Di Resta* 1:14.461
5 Alonso 1:14.553
6 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.621
7 Jerome d'Ambrosio* (Bel) Virgin-Cosworth 1:16.003
8 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:16.351
9 Schumacher 1:16.450
10 Alguersuari 1:17.214
11 Barrichello 1:17.335
12 Karthikeyan* 1:18.020
13 Rosberg 1:19.930



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see also
F1 testing photos
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Brawn encouraged by Mercedes pace
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Thursday testing as it happened
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Alonso responds to Red Bull pace
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1


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