F1 returnee Romain Grosjean has become the first driver to be the fastest overall on more than one day of this year’s pre-season testing, after he backed up Thursday’s session-topping effort with a repeat performance on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya.
With the previous nine days of pre-season testing providing very little in the way of on-track stoppages and major incidents, it seemed that all of this came at once on Friday, with no less than eight red flag stoppages.
Perhaps reflecting the chaotic nature of how the day panned out for many runners, the track wasn’t opened until half an hour after the original schedule, courtesy of thick fog descending on the Barcelona circuit.
Just six minutes into proceedings, Pastor Maldonado brought out the day’s first red flag. Later on, the likes of Vergne, Vettel, Schumacher (twice) and Hülkenberg all caused further stoppages when they ground to a halt on the circuit.
With the teams hoping for clear running and the chance to perform vital race simulations, these interruptions presented major problems, and this wasn’t lost on whomever was looking after Ferrari’s Twitter feed, which became increasingly frustrated in tone as the day wore on.
With the teams concentrating on shorter runs in the morning before some switched to race simulations in the afternoon, Grosjean’s fastest lap came in the final minutes with a run on Pirelli’s soft tyre compounds, after the Frenchman had already completed a 60-lap simulation in his Lotus.
Grosjean finished the day half a second faster than his countryman Jean-Éric Vergne, with the Toro Rosso driver’s lap-times all coming from his morning’s work. The F1 rookie had hoped to complete longer runs in the afternoon, by his programme was curtailed when his car stopped with a minor fire after an engine failure. He did eventually emerge late in the afternoon, but the team restricted itself to pit stop practice.
Sebastian Vettel finished third-fastest at the end of the day, improving on his morning’s best time in the Red Bull RB8.
The concerns in the Ferrari garage continued, with Fernando Alonso performing yet more straight-line running past the start/finish straight in the F2012. The car looked to be a real handful in the corners once again, and the Italian team looks like it has a mountain to climb to be seriously competitive by the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in just over two weeks time.
Heikki Kovalainen took Caterham to the dizzy heights of fifth-fastest on the timesheets, although his effort was well and truly flattered by his fastest time coming off a run on Pirelli’s super-soft rubber. He finished ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, who was sidelined for much of the afternoon with an hydraulics leak in his Sauber.
The Japanese driver finished mere fractions ahead of Nico Hülkenberg, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Hülkenberg was similarly sidelined for the afternoon in his Force India, while Schumacher suffered on on-track stoppage and an uncharacteristic spin (pictured) in his Mercedes to trigger two of the day’s red flags.
The final session times were as follows:
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:22.614||123|
|2.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||+ 0.512||31|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||+ 0.747||85|
|4.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||+ 0.833||124|
|5.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||+ 1.214||102|
|6.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||+ 1.222||77|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||+ 1.279||33|
|8.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||+ 1.364||79|
|9.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||+ 1.497||65|
|10.||Bruno Senna||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||+ 2.311||48|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||+ 3.187||20|
Latest posts by Richard Bailey (see all)
- 2020 F1 Season Review (Blu Ray) - 27 February, 2021
- WTCR: Guerrieri outwits Muller at the Nordschleife - 26 September, 2020
- WTCR: Girolami breaks Nordschleife lap record to claim pole - 25 September, 2020
- WTCR: Hyundai withdraws from Germany round - 24 September, 2020
- WTCR: Ehrlacher leads Lynk & Co podium sweep at Zolder - 13 September, 2020