What's New In Spain
Our guide to the upgrades - some more obvious than others - that featured on teams' cars during Barcelona practice...
Last Updated: 11/05/12 3:13pm
A snapshot of what was new on the cars in Barcelona...
Where to start with the big changes? In the pitlane, McLaren are operating a different pit-stop procedure this weekend in the wake of the fiascos that have bedevilled their season so far and have, for those of you interested in such matters, switched their wheel-nut system and introduced a new bigger and brighter set of 'traffic-lights' to make their stops both safer and quicker.
On the MP4-27 itself, a new, higher-profile nose has been bolted on. First used by Jenson Button as Lewis Hamilton ran the old design for comparison's sake, its appearance on both cars at the end of P1 signalled it will be McLaren's new look for the rest of the weekend and beyond.
However, McLaren also ran two other striking features of note - a 'blanking stip' on Hamilton's MP4-27 when configured with the 'old' nose, and vanes on the sidepod of Button's updated charger.
The much-predicted 'B car' hasn't appeared, but a raft of changes and tweaks have. These include a new floor, updated elements on the rear-wing and a front-wing tested by Felipe Massa throughout P1. To be honest, we expected more.
True to Christian Horner's pre-practice assurance that the changes to the Red Bull would be a matter of "evolution not revolution", the RB8 only featured relatively-minor tweaks in P1. These included some minute changes to their cars' exhausts outlets - although that's been an area of change in every Grand Prix so far this season. More surprisingly, they've opened up the hole towards the top of the diffuser that was closed to race-winning effect in Bahrain on Sebastian Vettel's car but kept it closed from Mark Webber's charger.
Little of substantial note. In the words of Ted Kravitz, the changes spotted on the W03's are "not massively different" to what we've seen before and the absence of any major upgrades ties in with the team using the Mugello test to focus on tyre evaluation rather than aerodynamic breakthroughs. Such is the importance of the Pirellis this season, who is to say they're wrong?
The team had previewed changes to the E20's floor and its front and rear drums, however it was a new front-wing layout that really caught the eye in P1, with the new look carried by both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The team continued to assess the part in second practice although said mid-way through the session that they had yet to form definitive conclusions on it.
The Grove outfit had brought the new exhaust system they debuted at Mugello to Barcelona and ran it in P1. However, it was removed for P2 in favour of their previous design as the team weighed up the pros and cons of each configuration.
In their own words: 'More aero evaluations for us this morning following on from the work we did in Mugello'. What that added up to in P1: their two cars running different exhausts in order to determine which package is more competitive.
Plenty of flow-vis paint on the back of the STR7 was visible during P1 as the team ran, or so we believe, their new Mugello-launched exhaust system.
The team ran a new aerodynamic package, headlined by a brand-spanking front-wing layout. It was first used by debutant Dani Clos before being bolted on to Pedro de la Rosa's charger. But only briefly - a piece of bodywork was spotted flying off the HRT along the backstraight and trhe session ended in ignominious fashion with Clos' broken vehicle being wheeled back into the garage.
There was plenty of flow-vis paint on the Marussia, the tell-tale giveaway to a process of evaluation in operation. The team ran differing configurations on their two cars, gauging which layout should be used for the rest of the weekend and reported afterwards some minor 'balance' issues.