A late surge saw Max Chilton - yes Max Chilton - top the timesheets on the first day of the second in-season test.
After three days of sunshine for the Grand Prix, it was altogether different this morning, the eleven drivers on duty getting to work on a wet track in unseasonably cool conditions. Thankfully however, the rain gave way around lunchtime and when the sun finally made an appearance the track soon dried.
Marussia, like its rivals, took the opportunity to conduct some wet tyre evaluation work on the extreme wet and intermediate tyres in the morning while the afternoon allowed for plenty of running on the dry tyres, starting with the medium compound and the moving on to the soft and supersoft.
The drier conditions enabled the Banbury-based squad to achieve its aero data collection objectives and work on developing set-ups from the race weekend. A late charge saw Chilton take pride of place at the top of the timesheets, with a time that (in theory) would have given him fourth on the grid for last Sunday's race.
"Generally we've had quite a successful day," said Chilton, "and to end it in P1 is obviously a real bonus. We've made steady progress throughout the day and to get the car to such a good place in terms of set-up, and then be able to see just how much we can extract from it, is a really big step from the race on Sunday to what we have achieved today. The conditions were pretty tricky this morning and on one occasion caught me out when I locked up and went straight on into the gravel. It's always good to get some wet weather experience with the car though; there are quite a few occasions over the next few races where I can see that coming in quite handy.
"After the lunch break, once the weather had improved, we were really able to start working through the set-up improvements we wanted to explore further after the weekend," he continued. "We went step by step through the programme, verifying everything we had concluded from the race here, and we can be really pleased with where we've got the car to. With another day of testing, I think we can leave Barcelona with the package in a really strong position."
"Today's running has been quite tricky from the point of view that the weather has not really helped us to get consistent testing conditions," admitted Chief Engineer, Dave Greenwood. "However, aside from that, it's been a very useful day for the Team. Our priority was to re-examine some of the set-ups we had tried at the race weekend, having struggled to get them to work in a race weekend context, without the benefit of several new tyre sets to enable better testing conditions.
This morning's wet running allowed us to recheck our wet set-up and improve the performance of the car. This afternoon, we were able to do some aero data collection in the period where the track was drying, along with good set-up work. It appears overall that we have improved the balance of the car from the race weekend and, somewhat cautiously, I would say that we have overcome, to a large extent, some balance issues that we have struggled with all year. We will see how this development continues as we take these set-ups forward. Our final position on the timesheet - P1 - was somewhat influenced by the use of the supersoft tyre in a qualifying simulation, however even up until that point we had been very pleased with the competitiveness of the car. Tomorrow will see Jules back in the car and we look forward to verifying what we have learned and continue experimenting."
Charles Pic enjoyed his first day in the Lotus E22 by setting the second fastest lap of the day, the Frenchman posting a time of 1:26.611 using the medium compound tyres during the course of 70 trouble free laps.
"It was a good first time in the E22," said Pic. "The new generation of cars are very different from those before with the new power units and all the other changes in how you drive them. I didn't get so many laps in the morning as the weather was very different from what you'd expect for Barcelona, but I think we optimised the day and completed everything we could. It was good day for the team and a good day for me. It felt really great to be in the car - it's been too long since Brazil last year!"
"We were cautious with our programme today and didn't go out when the track was at its wettest in the morning and thankfully we were rewarded with a much drier afternoon," added Alan Permane, "even with ongoing showers - when we could complete a good haul of laps. We ran through various aero and mapping assessments as well as trying different set-ups with the car. We didn't have any reliability issues today which allowed us to make good progress. Charles had a lot to learn with the new car and all the various procedures as well as a range of track conditions and different tyres used. He delivered exactly what we wanted from him today; he's done a very good job."