New parts have Schumacher all smiles

Gary Meenaghan | The National

BARCELONA // Thursday belonged to a new driver and today will belong to a new car, but yesterday it was the introduction of Mercedes-GP’s latest upgrade package that set the paddock abuzz at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion, topped the time sheets in Montmelo with a fastest lap of 1min 21.268secs, eclipsing Sergio Perez, the Sauber rookie who posted the week’s quickest time the previous day.

Schumacher’s teammate and compatriot, Nico Rosberg, was third, behind local favourite Fernando Alonso, of Ferrari.

Schumacher had said on Thursday that while he was pleased with the progress the team was making, they were “not quite” in a position to win when the season starts at Melbourne on March 27.

However, following the fitting of a revised front wing, alternative brake ducts and new turning vanes, in addition to the new exhaust system and diffuser that had already been added, the Mercedes team appeared much improved on the Spanish asphalt during the penultimate day of testing.

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