MAY 2, 2012
Lotus underlines Bahrain pace
With the proviso that testing times mean little, it is always better to be at the top of the timesheet than the bottom, and Romain Grosjean (1:21.603) shared quickest time down to the last thousandth of a second with Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber on the second day of the year's only in-season F1 test, at Mugello. The first day of the test was washed out by heavy rain.
The French-Swiss completed 97 laps amid a programme centred around aero work, suspension set-ups and data collection on medium and high fuel levels.
"It's always good to end the day on top," Grosjean said. "The car felt great and I was very comfortable from the start. This test gives us an opportunity to try things that we wouldn't have time to do during a race weekend, so hopefully it'll help us to keep pushing forward."
Kobayashi tested a new aero package and bodywork on the Sauber C31, as well as conducting some brake work. He had an off in turn 12 late in the day, costing himself an hour's track time.
Red Bull Racing had both Sebastian Vettel (1:21.825) and Mark Webber (1:21.997) on hand. Webber did the morning, focusing on aerodynamic tests with new components.
"The track finally dried out and the Tuscan weather kicked in at last, so we managed a few laps in the end," he said. "We had absolutely truck loads of stuff to go through, but so far so good. Mileage is so limited these days it was good to be in the car again; this test has been very useful.
"I think for Barcelona we will largely keep pushing with what we have done already, although I'm sure there will be small details that will change."
The team worked hard through the lunch break to change the car over for Vettel, who completed 64 laps as the team continued its aero tests.
"I'm happy to be here," Vettel said. "Unfortunately we don't have this track on the calendar. It's an incredible circuit with a lot of high-speed corners. It's what you hope for in an F1 car, because you can really feel the downforce. Once you get into the rhythm it's really enjoyable."
Felipe Massa lapped the Ferrari in 1:22.257, with Jean Eric Vergne (1:22.422) and Daniel Ricciardo (1:22.588) sharing testing duties for Toro Rosso.
In the Ferrari era, pre-testing bans, there were days when Michael Schumacher (1:23.404) was still going around Mugello at 8pm, only stopping when the light failed. Today, he did more than 140 laps and 750km in the Mercedes W03!
"I'm very pleased with the day," he said. "In the past I have done
so many kilometres on this beautiful track, and today I think I can say
I was adding quite some more. We tested some new things, which I would not want to go into detail about, so it is definitely worth coming here at this stage of the season. I'm really happy with how things are proceeding with our car and team." Nico Rosberg takes over for the final day of the test tomorrow.
Charles Pic lapped in 1:23.982 with the Marussia, ahead of Caterham's Vitaly Petrov (1:24.312).
McLaren is alone among the leading teams in not testing with its race drivers. Gary Paffett (1:24.480) had his first proper run in the MP4-27A as the team focused on improvements to aero correlation and broadening its understanding of tyre temperature and behaviour. The day was brought to a premature end by a gearbox issue mid afternoon.
Paul Di Resta (1:24.749) and Bruno Senna (1:24.842) were on duty for Force India and Williams respectively.