Lotus driver Romain Grosjean set the pace again on Day 2 in Barcelona, setting the fastest time of the day in 1m 22.614, but he also managed 124 laps in the day including a race simulation which impressed onlookers.
Grosjean said,”I’m very happy with the car, and it was great that we could still run strongly at the end of the session, even after a long stint.” Team mate Kimi Raikkonen takes over tomorrow in the car for the remainder of the test.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso managed the Scuderia’s first race distance simulation this afternoon, after Felipe Massa’s attempt yesterday. There was encouragement for the team from being able to work the car on long runs, but trackside observers report that the Ferrari is still clearly struggling for grip on corner exits and the drivers are noticeably later getting on the throttle than other front running cars.
Ferrari is in a race against time to develop its car before the start of the season, having had to spend the first two tests learning the car and assessing systems. The team has a number of upgrades to bring to the car over the weekend, but technical director Pat Fry has admitted that the car has a very narrow performance band, which is not a good quality in an F1 car if you want to be competitive over a season and the team will be working hard to broaden it. “We drop in and out of having a good balance or not,” said Fry. “And that is something we are working on trying to understand still. Yesterday there were times when the car was good and times when it suddenly changed, and that is what we are trying to understand.”
The start of the track action was delayed by fog and there were a number of red flag interruptions. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel had a stoppage, losing some time in the process but the car still continued to look impressive in all conditions. Vettel hinted that there is more to come, “The last couple of days of testing are always quite important as you always bring a few new things and it’s much closer to the car you will race in Melbourne,” he said. “So we’ll see if that works out and hopefully we’ll be able to make another small step forward before the first (race).”
Also ready to install some upgrades are the McLaren team, for whom Lewis Hamilton was out on track today. The 2008 champion sounded more upbeat than he has at this stage for a few seasons, “Our car feels better set-up wise, we still haven’t added the new aero package – so I think we’ll get a better picture of what the car will be like in Australia over the next two days.
“But I definitely feel like we have a competitive car.”
Force India’s positive testing experience took a bit of a knock with a driveline problem sidelining Nico Hulkenberg for much of the afternoon. But the team nevertheless look in competitive shape for the start of the season. Sauber also lost the afternoon to a hydraulics leak.
Caterham meanwhile made encouraging noises about the new car after a difficult test last week. ““Another very good day, and signs that we are starting to find out what this car can do<, " said Caterham CEO Riad Asmat. "The team have worked very well today and apart from a minor issue this morning we have run faultlessly and have shown pretty good pace, so I think we can be pleased with what we have achieved today.”
Jean Eric Vergne signed off his testing programme with Toro Rosso today and his next appointment with the car will be when he makes his Grand Prix debut in free practice at Albert Park, two weeks from today. "Since Jerez, the team and I have worked very hard to get me as ready as possible for the season and now, I’m looking forward to taking part in my first ever Grand Prix when the championship starts in Australia,” he said.
BARCELONA TEST, Day 2
1. Grosjean Lotus 1:22.614 124 laps
2. Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.126 45 laps
3. Vettel Red Bull 1:23.361 85 laps
4. Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 125 laps
5. Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.828 104 laps
6. Kobayashi Sauber 1:23.836 77 laps
7. Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.893 33 laps
8. Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.978 79 laps
9. Hamilton McLaren 1:24.111 65 laps
10. Senna Williams 1:24.925 48 laps
11. Maldonado Williams 1:25.801 20 laps