Grosjean and Lotus fastest of all on final day of Mugello test
3 May, 2012
May.3 (Apex) Lotus continued to set the pace on the final day of official Formula 1 testing at Mugello, with Romain Grosjean setting the fastest time of all over the three days at the Ferrari owned circuit in the hills of Tuscany.
A day earlier the Frenchman, and reigning GP2 Series champion, shared top spot on the timing sheets with Kamui Kobayashi. With the team opting not to use Kimi Raikkonen at Mugello, Grosjean was in the cockpit of the E20 for a second day and in the afternoon powered around the Ferrari owned circuit in 1 minute 21.035 seconds which was faster than anyone did the whole day – make that whole week – impressive stuff.
He said afterwards, “It was another nice day today so I have been lucky with the weather here. We continued to work on the car and have gained more valuable data. We made a big change to the car at lunchtime and everything went according to plan. Mugello puts high demands on the driver so it’s been a very good experience for me – and quite a workout!”
“We were conducting a specific programme of evaluating components, so to be quick relative to our opposition even when we were not looking specifically to try to top the times is satisfying. I’m happy at the progress we’ve made here in Italy and looking forward to seeing how well this translates into lap time when we get to Barcelona,” added Grosjean who scored his first F1 podium last time out in Bahrain.
The morning session belonged to Sebastian Vettel, in the Red Bull RB8, who set the benchmark pace just before lunch, his best lap of 1 minute 21.267 seconds at the time was enough to see him finish second fastest at the end of the day, with 106 laps to his credit.
All eyes were on the the Ferrari F2012, with Fernando Alonso in the cockpit, with a host of upgrades bolted on for the final day. This included visible exhaust layout change, to a more conventional position and some major tweaks to the rear body work in an effort to regain some down force which has been sorely lacking.
An excursion and contact with a wall was a setback for the ”home’ team which cost them a couple of hours of track time. Nevertheless, the Spaniard managed 98 laps, setting his best lap time in the morning which was good enough for third on the timing screens at the end of the day.
Up next were the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso and Sauber, with Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez ending the day fourth and fifth respectively.
There was some pit lane drama as Perez’s Sauber caught alight in front of the team’s garage forcing the Mexican to make a quick exit from the cockpit of the C31. He also appeared to struggle with the balance of the car which resulted in a couple of excursions into the gravel during the course of the day.
Force India ran both their drivers on the day, with Paul Di Resta on duty in the VJM05 in the morning and Nico Hulkenberg taking over for the afternoon session. The German ended the day sixth, fastest of the Mercedes powered brigade, with Di Resta 10th.
An electrical problem on the Williams Fw34 cost Pastor Maldonado most of the morning, nevertheless the team did a good job to strip the car to resolve the problem and the Venezuelan ended the day seventh on the timing screens, with 63 laps to his credit.
Appearing to ignore fast lap times were Mercedes with Nico Rosberg focusing on longer runs as the team evaluated tyres/setup combinations and chalking up 129 laps in the process. Rosberg was eighth fastest.
On duty for McLaren was Oliver Turvey, the only reserve on track on the final day, who ended his time in the cockpit of the MP4-27 ninth best.
Most laps on the day went to Heikki Kovalainen who powered the Caterham CT01 around Mugello no fewer than 139 times on his way to setting the 11th best time of the day.
At the foot of the timing screens was Timo Glock in the Marussia MR01, with 110 laps on his board.
Less than 2.5 seconds was the difference between Grosjean’s best and Kovalainen’s at the end of the day, and end of the first in-season F1 testing since 2008.
Day 3 Mugello Testing – Best lap times
|2||S. Vettel||Red Bull||1.21.267||+0.232||106|
|4||D. Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1.21.604||+0.569||117|
|6||N. Hulkenberg||Force India||1.22.325||+1.290||55|
|10||P. Di Resta||Force India||1.23.002||+1.967||34|