Webber quickest on day one of final test

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On the first day of the final Formula One test in Barcelona, Mark Webber has managed to top the timesheets as Red Bull look to assert their dominance before the season begins.

Difficult weather conditions meant that times only became reliable towards the end of the session, and a red flag also delayed running after Felipe Massa stopped out on track. The rain meant that the teams were able to try out all compounds of Pirelli tire on offer in 2013, but before the track dried out it was Webber who led. Eventually, Massa moved onto the softer rubber, and the Ferrari driver set the first competitive times.

However, following the red flag, it was Webber and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton fighting for top spot. Both drivers went quickest at points, but a spin from Hamilton meant Webber finished the day 1.6 seconds clear.

The Australian driver expressed his satisfaction to his team following the session.

“We’ve still got more to come, but that was the most we could get done in a short limited programme in dry conditions at the end of the day.”

Behind Hamilton was Jean-Eric Vergne in third place, continuing Toro Rosso’s good testing form, and Valtteri Bottas impressed to end up fourth ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez respectively.

Paul di Resta, whose teammate was finally confirmed today, finished in seventh, with Felipe Massa eighth, although Ferrari will hope that he could have challenged Webber had it not been for the stoppage.

Marussia’s Max Chilton put the rumors surrounding his teammate to the back of his mind to finish ahead of Charles Pic. It would appear the Anglo-Russian team has the edge over Caterham in 2013. Romain Grosjean propped up the timesheets, twelve seconds off Webber’s time.

Although it is difficult to truly understand testing performance, Red Bull will undoubtedly be pleased with their pace in both the dry and wet in Barcelona today.

Unofficial Times

1. Mark Webber Red Bull – 1:22.693
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes – 1:24.348 +1.655
3. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso – 1:25.017 + 2.324
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams – 1:26.458 + 3.765
5. Sergio Perez McLaren – 1:26.538 +3.845
6. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber – 1:26.574 +3.881
7. Paul di Resta Force India – 1:27.107 +4.414
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari – 1:27.541 +4.848
9. Max Chilton Marussia – 1:28.166 +5.473
10. Charles Pic Caterham – 1:28.644 +5.951
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus – 1:34.928 +12.235

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.