Grosjean and Kobayashi top timesheets on second day

02/05/2012
NEWS STORY

Having set the pace for much of the second day at Mugello, Lotus' Romain Grosjean was joined at the head of the timesheets by Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi as the two posted identical times.

Having radically changed its programme due to yesterday's weather - to the extent that Kimi Raikkonen will no longer be taking part in the week's running - Lotus made full use of Grosjean as it focussed on aerodynamics, setups, high and medium fuel runs, data collection and correlation.

"Romain was very happy with the car straight away," said Alan Permane. "We made a couple of minor balance adjustments to fine tune it for him after Jerome's running yesterday and then went into our test programme. Today we were concentrating on different suspension setups, so we had a fairly major change over lunch which took a couple of hours.

"We've got some good data from this which we'll need to sit down and assess tonight to decide what our strategy will be for tomorrow," he continued, "i.e. whether we re-test or stick with what we've got. The car is working very well here; we've run a variety of medium and high fuel loads as we would at a race weekend to assess the effects of the suspension change, and we're pleased with what we've seen. Overall, a positive day."

"It's always good to end the day on top," added Grosjean, "but we have to remember that in testing lap times mean very little. Having said that, the car felt great and I was very comfortable from the start. This test gives us an opportunity to try things that we wouldn't have time to do during a race weekend, so hopefully it'll help us to keep pushing forward. We've done a lot of setup work today, and for sure we'll need to take some time to look through all the data and analyse what we need to focus on tomorrow, but it's a good baseline for the final day."

After yesterday's limited running, Sauber, like its many rivals, had a huge programme to get through. Kobayashi began the morning session with some installation laps, followed by various runs to take measurements. While the track was still drying from overnight rain he started to work on the set-up, the engineers announcing themselves pretty happy with how this went, as the car with the new aero package reacted as it should. Further checks of the new body work and cooling were next on the list to be ticked off, and some brake testing was also done before the lunch break.

In the afternoon the Japanese driver was busy with further aero checks when it became very windy and led to the car having a tricky shifting balance. At 16:00 however, Kobayashi had an off in turn 12 which cost about an hour of track time. After this he joined the session again for some runs on the harder tyre compound and, finally, on a set of new soft tyres with which he set his best time of the day.

A lot more was learnt about the new aero package today. Tomorrow Sergio Perez will take over driving duties.

Both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were in the car for Red Bull. In the morning the Australian caught up on the items carried over from yesterday's programme and focused more on aerodynamic tests with new components, along with set-up work to maximise the benefit of those elements.

The team worked hard through the lunch break to change the car over for Vettel, who completed 64 laps as the team continued its aerodynamic tests.

"The track finally dried out today and the Tuscan weather kicked in at last," said Webber, "so we managed a few laps in the end. We had absolutely truck loads of stuff to go through, but so far so good. Mileage is so limited these days it was good to be in the car again; this test has been very useful.

"I think for Barcelona we will largely keep pushing with what we have done already, although I'm sure there will be small details that will change."

"I'm happy to be here," added Vettel. "Unfortunately we don't have this track on the calendar. It's an incredible circuit with a lot of high-speed corners. It's what you hope for in a Formula One car, because you can really feel the downforce. Once you get into the rhythm it's really enjoyable.

"We've got a lot of laps to get through here. We'll be trying to sort out a lot of the items we've been testing at previous events and things we possibly want to use in the future. The really important thing from here will be the analysis after this test to see what happens to the car."

At Ferrari, Felipe Massa took over from Fernando Alonso as the Maranello outfit focussed on development of aerodynamic components and a study of the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres. The Brazilian completed a total of 106 laps on his way to posting the fifth best time of the day.

"I really enjoyed driving here as it is a sensational track," said the Brazilian. "It was here that I did my first race in Europe when I was a kid and also my first test in a Formula 1 car, after which came many more with Ferrari. It's true this track is very different to the ones we usually race on, although there are similarities to some, such as Barcelona, before they had made the modification to the chicane in the third sector, or to the Silverstone track. However, testing is always important for a driver, because you learn a lot of things to do with the handling of the car: it's not enough to stay in the simulator which, as its name implies, only simulates, so for us, driving on the actual tarmac is essential.

"That's why today is still useful," he continued, "both for me and for the team, despite the fact the car was in almost identical trim to the one I drove in Bahrain. We worked mainly on the tyres, on studying their behaviour over short and long distances and also looked at a handful of aerodynamic components, as well as various different set-ups on the car. We got through almost the entire programme and tomorrow it will be down to Fernando to experiment with some of the new parts we have prepared for the start of the European season."

For Toro Rosso it was a productive day. In the morning, Jean-Eric Vergne was at the wheel, doing comparison tests with different diffusers and in the afternoon, the focus switched to an evaluation of different exhaust systems.

Daniel Ricciardo was due to take over driving duties after the lunch-break, but his turn at the wheel was delayed to allow his team-mate to finish off a particular part of the test programme. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Ricciardo has actually driven at Mugello before and despite just having two short runs at the end of the day, he was immediately on the pace. He will continue driving for the final day tomorrow. The team also practiced pit stops in the final part of the session.

"In the short time I have been in Formula 1, I would say this was the best day's testing I have done," said Vergne, "We had no problems, we got through a lot of items on the job sheet and, as a first impression, the new elements we tested seem to work well. Daniel still has more things to try tomorrow and if we can put all the best elements of this test together, then I am hopeful it could represent a step forward in Barcelona. The team also worked well, with the mechanics having to change a lot of parts in a short space of time to get the job done, so overall, a positive day."

Michael Schumacher was back at the wheel of the W03 as Mercedes focused on set-up and tyre work, alongside the evaluation of a number of development parts.

"I am very pleased with our testing day here," said the German. "In the past, I have done so many kilometres on this beautiful track, and today I think I can say I was adding quite some more. Unlike yesterday, we were able to gather really a lot of data, and like this we are learning more and more about our car which is absolutely positive. Of course we also tested some new things, which I would not want to go into detail about, so it is definitely worth coming here at this stage of the season. I am really happy with how things are proceeding with our car and our team, and I am convinced we have a good basis for the final day of the test tomorrow."

Charles Pic achieved a further 46 laps in Marussia chassis MR01-01 during this morning's session, but a sweet start to the day turned slightly more sour in the afternoon when it was time for Timo Glock to take over the car.

Just as the weather intervened during yesterday's session, the team's afternoon on Wednesday suffered a downturn in fortune when the start of Timo's programme was abbreviated by a power steering issue. This confined him to the garage until the final hour of running.

This morning the team were conducting set-up evaluations with Charles, comprising race-oriented work and some detailed exploration of the front suspension, which is not possible during race weekend Fridays. He also began an evaluation of some brand new rear suspension components, with a continuation of this work having been scheduled for this afternoon with Timo, along with the track debut of a new front wing as part of the wider aerodynamic upgrade for the European season.

Some planned changes were made to the car in the lunch break and the opening hour of the afternoon session to accommodate the change of driver and programme. Timo completed an installation run but it was clear on that lap that a power steering problem had surfaced. The team opted to change the steering rack which took two hours and Timo was finally able to start work on his programme at 17:00. The German will be back in the car for the final day of testing tomorrow.

"The dry conditions this morning meant we were able to really make some good progress with the set-up programme," said Pic. "The track was a little bit damp at first, but it got better and better all the time as the temperature started to increase. I was very happy with the direction we were taking and we got some good data from the car. The developments we have here are a definite step forward and I think because of our programme there was quite a lot more to come from the package. Although my running is complete I will stay here for the final day tomorrow as there is a lot we can continue to understand from the car to prepare us fully for Barcelona next weekend."

"Not a great second part of the day," Glock admitted, "as our problems cost us half of the afternoon session. I had to get used to the track quickly, which was not easy as there are a lot of blind corners. We did some basic set-up work for the last hour and a half which I was happy with, but we have a big programme for tomorrow now and I hope it will be a trouble-free day for me."

"On a positive note we have seen very clear signs that we have made a good step with our upgrade package," added John Booth, "so it is a shame that our progress has been hampered again this afternoon. Yesterday was similarly frustrating - for all of the teams actually - but Charles has at least been able to attack most of his programme elements. We will therefore be hoping for a more consistent day tomorrow so we can even up the balance in terms of mileage and feedback to ensure we are as prepared as possible for when we field the full upgrade package in Barcelona."

At Caterham, Vitaly Petrov was the second busiest driver out there, the Russian completing 112 laps as the Anglo-Malaysian outfit continued to evaluate a number of new components.

"Day two in Mugello has been a good one for the team," said Chief Engineer, Jody Egginton. "The weather is obviously a vast improvement over yesterday and with Vitaly in the car we managed to complete 112 laps, helping us catch up with the time we lost on track yesterday with the rain. This morning we ran through a program on a variety of tyre compounds that gave us the chance to evaluate the new parts we put on the car in the afternoon. From that we have generated a very good amount of data the team on track and back at the factory can use to accurately assess what we have gained with the updates which include new bodywork, a new rear wing and a look at a revised exhaust layout.

"Tomorrow we will be looking to replicate the same sort of program with Heikki in the car and with the forecast looking good for the last day of the test we want to be able to leave Mugello having completed everything we planned."

"I have very good memories of Mugello as this is where I won in F3000," added Petrov, "so coming back is good. I'm not sure the track is right for today's F1 cars - you get very close to the walls and it's maybe a bit small for the cars now, but it's still a good challenge putting together a quick lap. I think we can be pleased with what we have achieved here today. The car has run faultlessly all day and we have completed everything we targeted in today's runplan. This afternoon we started running some new parts and even though it's too early to make any judgements on what sort of step forward they give us, I can say the new rear wing we tried immediately felt like it was giving us more downforce. The car's balance felt better and there was more grip, so that's definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully we can have a similar day tomorrow and give ourselves a good chance of making more progress when we're back racing in Spain next week."

After yesterday's weather shenanigans, today was Gary Paffett's first proper run in the MP4-27A and the Woking team was able to focus on improvements to aero correlation and broadening its understanding of tyre temperature and behaviour. Progress was brought to a premature end at 15:00 however, when a gearbox issue ended the day's running.

It was a day of limited running for Force India as the team worked hard to get on top of reliability issues. Despite only completing 14 laps, Paul Di Resta was able to gather some aero data to begin evaluation of the latest developments on the car.

"We had a few issues today which kept us in the garage and meant that we couldn't get through much of our programme," said the Scot. "The guys spent a lot of time changing things on the car just before lunch and I only managed to get back out for a final run at the end of the day. You always want more laps, but these things can happen and hopefully we can have a full day of running tomorrow to get through our programme and learn what we need to learn."

"It's never nice to spend so much time sitting in the garage," admitted Chief Engineer, Jakob Andreasen, "but we had a few reliability concerns that we needed to resolve before we continued running. We suspected the issue was related to the hydraulic system of the car so changed that as a precaution. At the same time we chose to make the most of the downtime by bringing forward the engine change, which had been planned for the end of the session. It has been a tough day for the guys in the garage, but they did a great job to get the car out for the final half hour and give Paul the chance to complete a handful of laps in preparation for tomorrow. Due to the lack of running for Paul, he will now stay on for half a day tomorrow, before Nico takes over in the afternoon."

Bruno Senna was left propping up the timesheets for Williams, the Brazilian 3.239s off the pace. However, at a time when drivers are stressing the irrelevance of test times it should be noted that the youngster was the fourth busiest driver out there, completing 100 laps.

"We had an extremely busy second day with Bruno completing almost our entire scheduled test programme," said Mark Gillan. "We evaluated a detailed aero and mechanical test matrix and have learnt a great deal. The forecast for tomorrow looks fine and we are looking forward to another productive day."

"It was a good day for us which we completed without incident," added Senna. "We gained a lot of information from our runs and have some good knowledge to carry forward into tomorrow. We aim to continue improving and to be competitive on the final day. Mugello is an awesome track. It's really fast and physically challenging."

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Published: 02/05/2012
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