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Barcelona Test Day 2: Grosjean in the groove, Hamilton feels “competitive”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Mar 2012   |  8:12 pm GMT  |  55 comments

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

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  1. alam says:

    As you will read from James’s posts below, he puts the car in top 8. If people where to think it was a qucik car James’s would have put it higher though i do think it is a rather reseved opinoin. Easy to drive to me does not mean qucik.I think Max it will do is pick up points hear n there- points are not enough unless fighting for podiums. I think the fastest cars in order
    1. Red Bull- Front running car for last few years, team not worried on pace and ballance so should be front runner this year too.

    2.Mclaren- Again contender last year, car is looking good with drivers happy with package. Also drivers caperble of pushing it to perform.

    3.Ferrari- Altuogh from testing all the pundits rulled it out to be a difficult car, infact today bbc reported it as unstable in long corners then others in Fernando’s hands it will be there.

    4.MERC- Would have placed it higher but derivers are not up ther with the World Champs-Schumi not as fast as before but Brawn seems to be happy so they must have something up their sleeves.

    4. Suber- Watched Scarbs interview on the car and he says it has one of the most interesting Aero Packages on the grid with side pods with Air that pushes into diff. Also has good drivers.

    5. Williams/Lotus/FIndia-they are left to pick up cumbs. Lotus is not the old Renult winning team as most experianced people who where ther during 05-06 have left. Williams may get get it right with FI also picking up points.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      It’s interesting you have Lotus amonst the lower midfield but I think that they are ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes, also Mclaren seems as strong as Redbull and with the new aero package I won’t be be surprised if the Mclarens lockout the front row at melbourne.

    2. Dean says:

      I’d say they’re further up than that! I’d put them behind Bed Bull and MacLaren…maybe alongside Merc.

      1. I’d be surprised if Lotus was anywhere as fast as Merc. I’m thinking they’ll be fighting Force India for 5th in the championship.

    3. Nathan says:

      I disagree with everything in that list

      1. Brad says:

        +1 Nathan

      2. Charalampos says:

        It is fun to say who will be the quickest when you can have no clue about it. Since everyone does it here, I thought I would do the same

        Personally i think that you should subtract 2.3 seconds from vergne’s time to see what time vettel would have made if they did a qualifying supersoft run.

        You should also subtract around 1.3 seconds of the time of grosjean for different tyres/fuel loads/driver and you have that Rbr is around 0.5 seconds quicker than lotus to this you can add +-0.3 at least as an unknown factor. The heavy fuel runs do not disagree with that theory either.

        So I would not be surprised if they are just 1 step behind Redbull. Maclaren look ok, but I do not believe they hide as much pace as Rbr does and they are always too optimistic, so you should not pay a lot of attention to their comments.

        Ferrari is somewhere in the first group for me and in worse case they will need a few races t unlock the potential of the car, but probably they will make it for Australia. So I would not be surprised if they where anything from second to 5 or 6 in Australia.

        Mercedes looks like a step forward, but judging from the steps they made the previous 2 years, I cannot see how they can be infront of Rbr or Maclaren and they look to have degradation problems as last year. So maybe their qualifying pace with rosberg will be a bit behind Maclaren and Schumi will get the better out of Rosberg in the races if he can qualify anywhere near him.

        From there and on I did not really checked their times/form, but would put the teams more or less to the order they finished last year which is force india/sauber/torro rosso williams/ caterham.

      3. alam says:

        Rebull have copied Sabuers exhust according to Ted Kravitz. On yesterdays long run Lotus where .300 slower than Ferrari overall, BBC Andrew Benson. Mclaren car secound best ballanced car than Reb Bull, Sky news.

        dont see you guys backup a theory.

    4. Dmitry says:

      Same, top two may be correct, but the rest….not sure. Especially Ferrari is nowhere.

      1. Conor says:

        Agreed, I think Merc is above Ferrari, Lotus is obviously above Williams and so are Toro Rosso

  2. Irish con says:

    2012 McLaren reminds me of there 2009 car. Doesn’t seem to be a car out there in a different league to anyone else which can only be good. Ferrari seem to be improving and McLaren are confidant with doing few laps as past 2 days. Vettel still the man to beat this season tho. Kimi and romain to surprise a few this year also.

  3. Kevin Green says:

    lol i reckon you have only got one team in the right order and that’s Redbull and on that we wont see until raceday anyway but certainly looks that way but regardless i reckon you have got ALL the rest wrong.

  4. Aneesh says:

    Anything on Mercedes James?

    1. Conor says:

      Would also be keen to hear something about them

  5. Hare says:

    @alam that summary perfectly describes last year. However I think Lotus will be much higher. They will be on the podium this year. Caterham will be in the midfield results. Red Bull won’t have it all their own way, hopefully Webber can impact Vettel.

    The rest, I can’t wait to find out :)

  6. goferet says:

    Well the Kimi-Grosjean battle looks enticing more & more everyday and now am left wondering how the heck FOM is going to cover all these inter teams battles, maybe we shall have to depend on slow motion flash backs.

    Yes Lotus looking good also their long runs were good today + they seem to have a car that’s kind to it’s tyres & when you have a car whose engine doesn’t guzzle lots of fuel = Mercedes may have a problem/competitor.

    As for Ferrari, word on the street was that when Alonso said they have figured out how to heat the tyres faster, there was talk that they may have also lost their advantage for being easy on their tyres and seeing Alonso’s drop of times today, it just might be true.

    Infact Ferrari looks more like Mclaren 2009 at this point in time than Mclaren 2011 for the green paint came out again today.

    Now two days on the trot Caterham finishes more than a second ahead of Williams, this brings a whole new light to the news today why Frank Williams is gradually getting pushed out of the team.

    As for poor Hammy, so good to see him upbeat about life & F1 again for he’s been so sad of late hopefully the new Mclaren will put a big smile back on his face in November though personally I prefer the sad/serious Hammy look, for I think he looks rather cool & intimidating.

    Incidentally I think Sebi looks cool too when he all serious e.g. When he retired in Abu-Dhabi 2011.

    As for that grand pa Schumi, I think he has begun seeing the light for if it has come to the point of getting beached in the gravel trap during testing, then you know it’s time to call it a day.

    And if Rosberg keeps out qualifying him by 3-4 tenths then you will have a situation where by 5-6 cars separate him from Rosberg so yup, you better set your PVRs to record + get your cameras out, for this will be the last season we shall see the Kaiser do his thing live.

    1. Chris P says:

      I think we all believe this is Schumi’s last season anyway, but what Goferet says is interesting…. It looks very much like this season even more than last, if he is a few tenths slower than Rosberg, Michael could be starting a long way back.

      Webber to challenge Vettel for pace on race day more often this year.
      Lewis to amaze on occasion but lose out to Jenson through the year.
      Schumi and Kimi to both show their class with stunning drives to a podium or two.
      Paul di Resta to become hugely desired by the top 3 teams…. headline performances on the way.

      I don’t see the overall order being far different to last year.

      Despite the regulation changes, I think the cars will be close enough for this year to be a driver’s year.

      In truth they are few and far between, so I shall strap myself in and enjoy every second.

      CAVEAT
      These thoughts come from a man who secretly has believed Jenson Button would be one of the best since that first season and Williams.

      IF he doesn’t hamper himself with qualifying positions, I do believe he can be the fastest man over a race distance, and I think he might just squeak the title…. He looks like he finds Formula 1, fun and that is hugely in his favour.

      1. Joe B says:

        I agree – it’s really tough to call, but I’ve put a cheeky bet on Jenson for the title. If the McLaren is quick (as in equal or even faster than the RBR), then I think he’ll do it.

      2. Conor says:

        Not a bad bet, I put $15 on Schumacher when his odds were $72, I doubt it’ll happen but couldn’t resist at those odds, especially when he’s at $20 odds now

      3. Yos says:

        If you think things wouldn’t be different this season then there won’t be any pleasure for you. Di resta is good but i don’t think he will beat Hulkebenerg, rememeber he was beaten by Sutil who was considered by some pundits as a not-top driver. I believe too that webber will find his 2010 form and chalenge vettel and Hamilton will destroy not only button but the field as well.

  7. Richard says:

    I still say the form is very difficult to read with slower cars doing lower fuel runs to impress, but top teams doing the all important programmes and set up work with higher fuel loads. Waiting for the last few days of testing to see the later aero update packages perform. Of course we won’t really know until Melbourne Q3.

  8. Anand R says:

    My worst fear is that McLaren will do a Ferrari 2011 (fast, consistent, reliable, but not fast enough nor aggressive).
    While Ferrari is a gamble, ala Mclaren 2011!

    I love how these two legendary teams always have an inter-team battle that is inherent in addition to the overall championship! If you can’t win the Constructors, atleast finish higher than the Mclaren or Ferrari respectively!

  9. Bo Amato says:

    As a Ferrari fan it is clearly obvious there has been no sand bagging. The car is a awful, roll on 2013. For this year I can watch Barrichello and Alesi at Indy.

    1. David Young says:

      The season hasn’t even started yet and you’re already throwing in the towel? It’s a long season. F1 is also about how you develop your car during the season. “The first one now, will later be last.” – Bob Dylan

  10. Ledio says:

    Hi James, Hi all.
    The more I read the new the more it seems that Ferrari this year is going to strugle even more. The person Iam more worried about is Fernando, if the car does not perform this will have a very bad impact on his attitude and his progres for the rest of his carrer.

    1. kenny5 says:

      alonso’s carrer was destroyed after his year along side hamilton — it was sad to see a former champion reduced to sabotaging his team mates title chances…

  11. Bayan says:

    Lotus seems awfully quick. Do you think they are actually going to trouble the likes of RBR/Mecca/Ferrari/Merc this year?

    Grosjean in particular seems like he did some something right after Renault dropped him. He has come back strong in his second stint in F1. What are your thoughts on him? Will he give Kimi and the other teams a hard time?

  12. Shane Govern says:

    James

    Only a couple of tenths between RBR and Ferrari in the hands of Vettel / Alonso today! Surely time for your negativity towards Ferrari to be re-evaluated. In my humble opinion both teams are hiding true pace but all the speculation will out ‘outed’ in Melbourne very soon!

    1. A sonic analysis and race simulation lap times can give a bit of a hint as to where teams are at performance wise.

      Pit money on RBR, not Ferrari. :)

      1. Shane Govern says:

        I think it’s all gamesmanship. I remember last year when Ferrari were ‘in awesome shape’ both on single laps and race pace, I even vaguely remember that kind of synopsis on this website.

        I’ll happily withdraw my enthusiasm if the Ferrari turns out to be a dud but I just won’t until I’ve seen what goes down in Australia : )

    2. Sam says:

      But Ferrari said they are worried about consistency, the car having a narrow performance band. So they might be close to Vettlel over one lap, but the times don’t tell you how they’d perform over a race

  13. Adam says:

    I strongly suspect that McLaren are the ones who have hidden the full form as they have gone for defining the effects of changes on the cars setup and fully documenting that rather than doing glory runs. That is why Lewis is now feeling happy. Becuase they have not yet tested the real aero package for a race, he has felt the mechnical grip and the baseline aero and knows it only gets better from here.

    So the real question is who pops out the best aero package to test tomorrow? McLaren or RBR? One thing is for sure it wont be Ferrari because new aero will just confuse them further about the car!

    We know McLaren has a team who can really get to grips with understanding a car, even when it is a dog, like the last couple of years. Imagine what they can do if it works from the get go, with two good drivers to boot!

    Cant wait for qualifying in Melbourne when we see who really has the form, cars and drivers!

    1. KRB says:

      Yeah, I hope you’re right, but I always hate it when I see someone from McLaren (driver or higher-up) saying stuff like they’ll be fighting for a podium before the fact.

      TALK IS CHEAP!!!

      Better to shut your trap, keep your nose to the grind, and other body parts to other fast-spinning contraptions, and when you qualify on pole, THEN talk. I don’t know why they do it, to be honest, and I think McLaren are the worst for doing it. There is no upside to it … if things work out, it’s expected … but if they don’t, the team look like fools.

      NO ONE knows with any certainty where they are in the pecking order. They might be confident that they’re near the front, but they cannot know that right now.

      I just hope that the RB8 is not the dominant car again.

  14. Dave Wynter says:

    My feeling is there are too many variables that are hidden (most of all fuel load) from us to get a reasonable picture of the cars competitiveness. Only in general terms can we predict their relative pace.

    I am surprised that someone does not get the progressions for the lap times over the 4 days of the final test period and compare to the actual car performance in the first races for the previous 3 years, where the rules have been relatively stable.

    My feeling is there would be a good correlation across those 3 years and those could be used to extrapolate forward to this year. I think that the behaviour of the teams will not have changed over the, now, 4 years and the relative amount of ‘hiding’ true pace would likely be consistent. Does someone have the time and raw data to do this?

  15. One lunger says:

    This year is the same as the last 2-3, 1:22-1:23 second lap times by all the top runners.

    Last years pole was a 1:19 and change….

    Can’t wait for Melbourne!

  16. MarkedOne8 says:

    Lotus has completed 6 testing days in total.4 days in Jerez and for now 2 in Spain.Their drivers were 3 times on the ends of these days.Kimi was first in Jerez once, and now Grosjean twice.That is 50% times being fastest.I know that testing doen’t mean too much, but there is something good happening with Louts.Don’t rule out RBR or McL, but Lotus is big team now for sure.Can’t wait to see real relations in terms of qualifying and race pace.

  17. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Maybe Melbourne won’t show the true colors, maybe it would be “surprises” in the podium and behind, but after that it could be all about Red Bull and McLaren most of the time on fast tracks.

  18. Elie says:

    Gosh if the Mclaren is not going for quick times and doing 1.24 nowhere near flat out then I think the others ought to be worried. Its the same for Red Bull. As for Lotus I think Grosjean is flat out.. But they will surprise/beat Merc & Ferrari first few races.. Mclaren to win in melb !

  19. Ryan Eckford says:

    At the moment, I feel it is nip-and-tuck between Red Bull and McLaren. It is going to be the drivers that decide this battle. Last year, despite a few close qualifying sessions, I always felt McLaren were much slower than Red Bull, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton gets pole position and wins the race in Australia. Then again, I won’t be surprised if Red Bull find that magical upgrade, or have that magic boost button to get a big advantage again.

    Then after that, it is Mercedes, Lotus, probably Ferrari(it is difficult to get a read on them), Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Williams and Caterham.

    Then…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. we have HRT and Marussia, and I don’t know in which order HRT and Marussia will be in, but I am sure they will take up the last 4 places on the grid.

  20. Darren says:

    Carterham are looking solid looking forward to seeing there out right speed , they will out qually William at least in australia

    1. KRB says:

      Last year in Melbourne Trulli finished 2 laps down, and it’s known that Caterham try to fuel their car only for the number of laps that they predict they’ll complete. So will they put a lap more fuel in there this year?

  21. Chris R says:

    The thing about testing that sticks in my head is when Ferrari ran their car for km after km, racking up hundreds of km’s (i cannot remember if it was last season or the one before).

    Basically what appeared to be a super successful testing programme ended up with an uncompetitive car that never caught up with the front runners.

    Since then, i tend to think when teams are finding problems during testing, it puts them in a better position for the season.

    Obviously if the problems are too severe, then we’ll hear again that the design of a car has some fundamental flaws, but until then i say, testing problems = good.

    Using my logic, id say Mclaren are the ones to worry about :P And maybe Red Bull too, but they’ve seemed pretty bullet-proof for the last few seasons.

    1. Davexxx says:

      Yeah I have a worry that McLaren will be like last year – looking ‘good’ during testing, but not doing so good in the races. I hope it’s not so, but, just a feeling…
      I feel sure Vettel will be again on the Aussie top step (yawn) but in subsequent races other teams will beat them. It will be close and I have no idea whether Red Bull will win the year.

      1. The McLaren did not look good AT ALL in testing last year! They brought essentially a brand-new car to shake down in Melbourne!

  22. panagiotis says:

    Oh my god, apologies James but couldn’t resist to comment testing day 3 on testing day 2 thread, but BB8 with a revised exhaust solution and new aero with just 2 days for testing it. Are they in trouble or what? I don’t get such late initiative and overconfidence, but I have to admit that this testing period has been the best in years; I hope it would be materialized into a perfect season.

    1. Ash.P says:

      No trouble at redbull.
      if you remember last year they came out with the blown diffuser quite early in the test season and as a result everyone got to copy it in time for the first race.
      live and learn is this years moto at redbull

      1. panagiotis says:

        True!!! Horner stated at first sight. However, copying didn’t change last year’s pecking order. Copying is part of F1 and happens whilst testing is precious. Hence, trouble of time for RB I thought, but hey they are a championship winning organization. F1 fantastic stuff!

        Troublesome testing gives you wisdom racing, is this year Ferrari’s moto!

  23. Glennb says:

    I still have a good feeling about Toro Rosso this season and reckon this team is one to watch for some improved results.

    1. Andrew Kirk says:

      If the car is good the question marks are at the drivers door. The debate is still on if they should have kept Jaime.

  24. richard c says:

    I can,t wait to see LH get the Maclaren flying round Oz. I strongly beleive this is LH year. Really interested to see how Vettel copes when not in the quickest car?!?! Should be an awesome season!

    1. radi says:

      A lot of people are curious how vettel would do without the newey factor. Even massa is able to keep the lead if he starts with no cars in sight and with da best equipment. Funny how people say vettel is the best already. Did not hill and villneuve win with newey car? Both are not the top there were…

      1. Webbo says:

        Neither Hill nor Villeneuve won more than one title, though. Not even Mansell did. Only Häkkinen won the same amount of titles, he won less races, though.

      2. KRB says:

        Mansell surely would’ve if he stayed on at Williams for 1993. If we were using Bernie’s “gold medal” system, Mansell would be a 3x DWC.

        Same thing with Hill; Williams at that time ditched their champions fairly regularly.

        I think only one of Vettel’s wins was one where you said afterwards that he had no business winning that race, and that was his win with Toro Rosso in 2008.

      3. Kevin Green says:

        Irrelevant point anyway since that long ago previous days Newey himself is much older knowledgeable and wiser and there was not the same importance of aero and available aero tech in those days and that’s where Newey really shines!

    2. edt says:

      In my heart i really do hope LH destroys the whole field,but my head tells me even with the might of Mclaren the combination of RB and Adrian newey RB will be top at the end of season.

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