The Lotus F1 team have left Italy with an extra spring in their step after Romain Grosjean once again topped the timesheets on the final day of in-season testing at the Mugello circuit. The Frenchman’s time – 1:21.035 – was even quicker than the session-topping effort he managed the day before.
There was plenty of focus up and down the pit lane on the final day of testing at the picturesque Florence, which has been widely praised by drivers – with the notable exception of Vitaly Petrov – as a great circuit on which to drive, with most having their first-ever outings at the circuit.
Ferrari was one area where many photographers had their cameras trained, for the final day of running would be the point at which its entire major upgrade was unveiled. The F2012 emerged sporting a host of new changes – most notable being a new set of turning vanes and some red Bull-style exhausts – as it strives to bridge the gap to the frontrunning teams.
Unfortunately Fernando Alonso almost threw that opportunity away to gather some valuable data when he speared into the tyre barriers, bringing out one of the day’s four red flags. Nonetheless, he managed to hustle his repaired Ferrari around the track with a time good enough for third-fastest behind Sebastian Vettel.
There was drama in the Sauber garage when Sergio Pérez – having his one and only outing in the car at this test – was involved in a dramatic incident when his Sauber caught fire in the pit lane. The Mexican was back on track after some repairs to his car and a check-up from the team’s doctor, and he ended the day fifth-fastest, half a second slower than Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso.
Pastor Maldonado was another driver having his only day’s outing in the Williams, but his running was beset by electrical gremlins, limiting him to a comparatively lowly 63 laps. While the Venezuelan finished seventh-fastest, he was narrowly pipped to sixth by Nico Hülkenberg, who had a half day’s running in the Force India in his only time in the cockpit.
Heikki Kovalainen was another driver given one outing at this test – Caterham having elected to field Rodolfo Gonzales and Vitaly Petrov in the first two days, respectively – and the Finn finished in eleventh spot on the timesheets, triggering one of the day’s red flags with an off at Turn 1.
The cars running on Thursday were again fitted with a host of sensors and flow-vis paint as the teams sought to gain more practical data of their upgrade packages ahead of next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Of course, how much should be read into the three days’ testing times is ultimately up to the reader, although with fuel loads and car set-ups remaining a well-kept secret, it’s always difficult to infer too much until we see some proper practice action at the Circuit de Catalunya.
2012 Mugello In-Season Test – Day 3 Test Times:
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:21.035||66|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:21.267||+ 0.232||106|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:21.363||+ 0.328||98|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:21.604||+ 0.569||117|
|5.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:22.229||+ 1.194||118|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:22.325||+ 1.290||55|
|7.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:22.497||+ 1.462||63|
|8.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:22.579||+ 1.544||129|
|9.||Oliver Turvey||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:22.662||+ 1.627||99|
|10.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:23.002||+ 1.967||34|
|11.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:23.169||+ 2.134||139|
|12.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:23.466||+ 2.431||110|