Grosjean quickest again at Mugello

By on Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day Three of F1 testing at Mugello went the same way as Day Two with Romain Grosjean’s Lotus on top, narrowly ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Another full day saw the F1 teams take their last opportunities of the 2012 season to test with their regular drivers. Yesterday’s sunshine was replaced by cloud and so with slightly cooler track temperatures, many teams took the opportunity to run harder tyres – though the performance of most seemed unaffected by the change.

For the second day in a row Romain Grosjean’s Lotus was the fastest car at Mugello, two-tenths quicker than Sebastian Vettel. “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,” reflected Grosjean. “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.”

Vettel and Red Bull were happy with their efforts, having gone past the 100-lap mark again and suffered no mechanical problems: “It’s been a useful couple of days and I’ve enjoyed the track a lot,” reflected Vettel. “As usual we now have a lot of data to get through and that will take some time. We tried a few things and the results look encouraging; it’s always difficult to tell whether we improved and by how much, but we got some good laps and some good information.”

Third quickest was Fernando Alonso who took to the track with a Ferrari F2012 featuring a heavily revised rear end. Alonso was the fastest man on track early in proceedings but his progress came to a halt when he hit the barriers. The damaged car came back to the garage on a low-loader and spent two and a half hours in the garage for repairs before Alonso could get underway again. “The feeling I have after the test is a positive one,” said Fernando in the evening. “We have introduced a few small – and I stress that word – aerodynamic updates, that have produced the response we were expecting and that is the most positive news, which means I am confident for the future, in the short and the long term. It means that what we see in the factory in Maranello has now also been confirmed on track.”

Fourth quickest was Daniel Ricciardo for Toro Rosso who also managed heavily mileage and pronounced himself pleased with the day. “With new parts you always hope they will deliver a big improvement, but the reality is that we must now look at the data to see where we really are,” said the Australian. Fifth was Sergio Pérez for Sauber ahead of Nico Hülkenberg for Force India. Having got very little running over the first two days the Silverstone-based outfit decided to continue with Paul di Resta (tenth fastest) in the morning before handing over to Hülkenberg in the afternoon.

Following Hülkenberg was the Williams with Pastor Maldonado taking over today. He spent much of the morning in the garage as technical problems grounded the car. “We had a disappointing start to this morning's session with an electrical problem that necessitated stripping the car, thus incurring a large loss in track time,” confirmed chief operations engineer Dr Mark Gillan. When the problem was fixed Maldonado was able to get out and run a modified programme of 63laps.

Chinese Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg had a busy day for Mercedes. While only eighth quickest he racked up 129 laps for the Silver Arrows, equivalent to just over 670km and behind him McLaren had a productive run with Oliver Turvey in the car, concentrating on testing various front wing and exhaust iterations. Di Resta followed Turvey on the time sheet, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen, whose 139 laps was comfortably the most mileage of the day.

“I enjoyed myself out there – even though a lot of what we were doing was pretty repetitive, it's still a good place to drive an F1 car around and having got through everything we'd planned it's good to leave this test on a positive note,” said Kovalainen. “We tried a variety of new parts and it felt like we may have found a couple of things that we can take to the next race. You can never tell just how much of an improvement something has been until you go through all the data, but the fact we've brought new parts that feel like a step forward is good.”

Bringing up the rear of the field was Timo Glock who managed 110 laps for Marussia, putting behind them the steering issues which blighted their running yesterday.

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