Webber rejects Red Bull rampage claims

Mark Webber has dismissed suggestions Red Bull will romp to victory come the opening race of the season in Australia in just over a fortnight’s time.

For the first time today, in pre-season testing, a Red Bull car topped the timesheet as the first eight days had seen McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus out in front on two occasions apiece.

Conditions at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, however, were far from ideal again as the morning and early afternoon were dominated by rain and cold temperatures before the track dried out late on.

Towards the end of the session Webber bolted on a set of soft Pirelli tyres to finish 1.7secs quicker than Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes.

Although impressive, the time was still 0.8s slower than the best of last week at the track posted by McLaren’s new boy Sergio Perez, but under the circumstances suggesting there was plenty in the tank.

“We’ve seen some very quick lap times from other cars, so we’ve got work to do, and we’re working as hard as we can because we know there are some very strong teams out there,” Webber said.

“We obviously focus as much as we can on ourselves, but you also want to understand sometimes what the other guys are doing and have a look at how you might compare.

“In general, we know there are some fast cars out there, and we’re not on our own, that’s for sure.”

Asked about the prospect of Red Bull turning up in Melbourne and blowing away the field, Webber said: “Of course not. That hasn’t happened for a long time.

“Once the season gets going then you have a bit of a trend, but early in the season it’s anyone’s game.”

Behind Webber, Hamilton again clocked up the miles with a day-high of 113 laps, and although far adrift of the Australian, his time on the medium compound tyre did stand out.

“They were difficult conditions today, but they dried up later on and we got some good running,” said Hamilton.

“I had a good race simulation, so I’m happy we’re making progress and moving forwards, with the guys doing a fantastic job at the factory.

“Over the next couple of days we should get some upgrades on the car, as everyone will.

“It’s always the most exciting part of testing when you get the full package.

“But at the moment I honestly don’t know where we are in the field because everyone is on different fuel loads.”

Jean-Eric Vergne, also on the mediums in his Toro Rosso, was seven tenths of a second behind Hamilton, followed by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Perez, who both tried out the super-soft compound.

Although Perez racked up 100 laps, he was four seconds behind Webber, and nearly five seconds off his best of a week ago.

Mexican compatriot Esteban Gutierrez was sixth quickest for Sauber ahead of Paul di Resta in his Force India and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Marussia’s Max Chilton was again ahead of the Caterham that had Charles Pic behind the wheel, whilst bringing up the rear was an unhappy Romain Grosjean in his Lotus.

Due to a hydraulics issue late on, the Frenchman failed to set a time when the track was at its quickest, finishing 12 seconds adrift of Webber.

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