Romain Grosjean has moved to dispel concerns over the Lotus F1 team’s design of its E20 chassis by ending on top of the timesheets on the first day of the final pre-season test at Barcelona. The team had to pull out of the second pre-season test when the outfit identified a design fault in the front suspension mounting.
The Frenchman left it until the last thirty minutes of running to move to the top of the timesheets, after Jenson Button had spent much of the day as the quickest driver in his McLaren.
Button took over at the top of the order from Sauber’s Sergio Pérez just before the lunch break, after the Mexican had moved to be quickest when he posted a rapid lap on a set of Pirelli prototype medium-compound tyres.
Weather conditions improved significantly in comparison to last week’s test session, with team members and spectators now able to strip off some of the layers of clothing that were required at the previous test session at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Down at Caterham, there was a last-minute change in their line-up, with Vitaly Petrov taking over from Heikki Kovalainen for the day after the Finn was struck down by a bout of ‘Barcelona belly’. The Russian completed a total of 123 laps for the day, ending the day second-slowest.
Behind the top three runners, Mark Webber was fourth-fastest in his Red Bull, with the team paying special attention to cover the RB8’s rear wing from the spying eyes of rival teams.
The busiest runner of the day was Nico Rosberg, who clocked up 128 laps in his Mercedes, with the German concentrating on longer runs.
Jean-Éric Vergne was sixth-quickest in the Toro Rosso, with the Italian team concentrating on pit stop practice in the late part of the day.
Separated by just one-hundredth of a second of the timesheets were Paul di Resta and Felipe Massa, who finished up just over a second slower than Grosjean’s late session-topping effort. Massa some running time in the Ferrari garage after lunch while the team investigated a minor mechanical issue, and again spent a significant portion of the day performing straight-line runs as concerns over the F2012’s speed continued to mount.
With the HRT and Marussia teams missing in action, the slowest runner of the day was Pastor Maldonado in the Williams; the Venezuelan was seven-tenths slower than Petrov. The Grove team had developed a new front wing for Maldonado to try out, which the team hoped would help improve its slow-corner handling.
The final session times were as follows:
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:23.252||73|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||+ 0.258||64|
|3.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||+ 0.568||118|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||+ 0.578||102|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||+ 0.740||128|
|6.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||+ 0.964||113|
|7.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||+ 1.053||98|
|8.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||+ 1.066||105|
|9.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||+ 1.624||123|
|10.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||+ 2.335||58|
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