MAY 3, 2012
Grosjean quickest again at Mugello
As F1's only in-season test reached its conclusion at Mugello, Italy, Romain Grosjean (1:21.035) kept Lotus at the top of the time sheets with the fastest time of the week, ahead of Sebastian Vettel (1:21.267) in the Red Bull.
"After looking at the data from yesterday, we ran further back-to-back tests on our suspension configurations," said Lotus's Alan Permane. "We stopped early for lunch so that we could change the suspension and be out running straight away in the afternoon session. We also assessed some new floor updates applicable for Barcelona, as well as a rear suspension update fitted late in the day.
"After the rain on the first day, it's been a valuable two dry days of testing. Mugello is quite hard on the tyres; not in terms of degradation, but through the high-speed loadings generating heat. This has taught us some interesting lessons applicable to the rest of the season. Mugello is also an excellent circuit for doing aerodynamic evaluation, so it has been time well spent here."
Although fuel loads are of course unknown, Ferrari will be hoping that Fernando Alonso's 1:21.363 is representative of progress as the team revealed aero and exhaust exit revisions. Alonso has an off in the morning, sustaining front wing and left front corner damage, which cost Ferrari two and a half hours.
Daniel Ricciardo (1:21.604) had a full day behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso STR7 and completed 117 laps, one fewer than Sergio Perez (1:22.229) who finished the day fifth quickest in the Sauber.
Struggling with the car's balance, the Mexican went off twice before the lunch break, but without major damage.
Nico Hulkenberg (1:22.325) and Pastor Maldonado (1:22.497) finished the day sixth and seventh for Force India and Williams respectively, with Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:22.579) and Oliver Turvey's McLaren (1:22.662) in the same ballpark.
"We had a disappointing start to the morning session with an electrical problem that necessitated stripping the car, incurring a large loss in track time," explained Williams' Mark Gillan.
"The mechanics worked hard to get the car back out on track in the early afternoon. We modified the run plan accordingly and successfully completed a number of aerodynamic and systems tests."
Nico Rosberg commented that Mercedes still had work to do in fast corners, which are a feature in Barcelona (Turn 3 and 9 in particular). Team chief Ross Brawn added: "The first opportunity for in-season testing for some time has proved beneficial, particularly as it has enabled us to test some new development ideas and take a closer look at improving the car from things that we have identified over the first four races."
Paul Di Resta (1:23.002) shared Force India duties with Hulkenberg. Heikki Kovalainen (1:23.169) was the day's mileage king with 139 laps in the Caterham, while Timo Glock turned a respectable 1:23.466 in the Marusssia, less than two and a half seconds from Grosjean's pace-setting time.