Romain Grosjean continued Lotus’ strong form during this week’s first winter test by topping the times of Day 2 at Jerez, as the teams piled on the mileage, some covering around 100 laps while Lewis Hamilton’s opening day at Mercedes came to an abrupt end due to a brake failure.
Hamilton had completed just fifteen laps this morning and had just done a lap in the 1m 19.5s, when a hydraulic brake line at the back caused him to run straight on at the Dry Sack hairpin and lightly in to the barriers. The back-straight leading in to Dry Sack is the second of two unofficial DRS zones agreed among the teams – the other being the pit straight.
The F1W04 suffered front-wing and suspension damage and, like yesterday, Mercedes chose to cut the day short in order to fix the problems and get some serious laps under their belt with Nico Rosberg back in the car tomorrow.
“I hit the brake and, for a split second, it was working,” he said in his media session this evening. “But then the pedal went straight down. It just wasn’t working and then I had to brace for the impact.
“You have to keep looking forwards and remain positive. The guys in the garage, they are not trying to have this kind of thing happen. They are working as hard as they can back at the factory, so I am glad that this didn’t happen at the last test at Barcelona. That would really suck.
“From the few short laps that I completed this morning, my general feeling was very positive. I got a good understanding of where the base of the car is and, whilst we need to do work in certain areas, it was good to have some laps to get a feel for what those areas are.”
With just 29 laps on the board in two days, it has not been a good start to the season for Mercedes and it comes at a time when new management are looking at ways to improve the technical side of the team.
There were no such worries for Grosjean as the Enstone squad focused on short runs using the soft tyre. In a repeat of the kind of form they showed at the first test last year, Grosjean recorded six laps in the 1m.18s, with his fastest being 1.6s faster than his personal best yesterday, meaning only himself and yesterday’s pace setter Jenson Button have broken the seventy-nine second mark. Grosjean did cause a red flag very late in the day as his E21 came to halt with two minutes remaining, suspected to be a very low-fuel run.
With McLaren alternating their drivers this week, it was Sergio Perez’s chance to have his first taste of McLaren machinery. They opted to fill their morning with short runs and Perez posted a quickest time 7/10ths of a second slower than Button managed yesterday. At this early stage it would be unfair to forensically compare these times since we don’t know what McLaren have been testing over the two days, and the mornings in Jerez have been considerably colder than the warmer conditions later on, in which Button set his late fast lap yesterday.
Meanwhile, at Ferrari, a very upbeat Felipe Massa spent the morning collecting data. This afternoon the team started pushing the development envelope, the session was filled with three long runs as the team tested different exhaust systems and a new floor and Massa is very pleased with the way testing has started.
“The car really is on another planet compared to last year’s,” he said. “The first impression is positive, it’s much better balanced. Here for example, grip is very important and I could feel a good response from the rear of the car, it’s more solid. It’s a relief because this saves us time. Last year we wasted almost a month sorting out problems. So we can accelerate development ahead of the first race,” added Massa.
Mark Webber spent a second day in the RB9 in Jerez, racking up over 100 laps today, among 174 in total. The team spent the majority of the day on medium length runs. During these Webber lapped incredibly consistently, generally, laps within 2/10ths of one another over a six lap stint.
“In terms of consistency I was very happy with the last few days and myself,” said the Australian. “The car gives me the confidence to push, and we can certainly build from there in terms of development.
“I’ve done 170 (laps) or more, which is a good total for the first two days with a new car. Overall, it’s been very good. The car gives me the confidence to push pretty hard and that’s always an indication that you have something you can build on.”
Behind Grosjean, and as we saw yesterday, Paul Di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo were the best of the rest. They headed a very tight bunch, with Di Resta to Massa in eighth position being covered by less than a second. The Force India and Toro Rosso cars were particularly closely matched over their longer runs, indicating that they may have surpassed the likes of Sauber and Williams with their winter developments.
Sauber and Williams opted to leave Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado in their respective cars for a second day running. Hulkenberg completed a huge amount of laps during a trouble free day and found himself less than 2/10ths off Webber at the climax. Maldonado had his running restricted by a clutch issue this morning, yet he still managed 71 laps in Williams’ 2012 car.
James Rossiter had his first taste of Formula One machinery since 2008, taking over from Di Resta in the final hour of the day. The Force India simulator driver completed nineteen laps and ended the day faster than both Caterham and Marussia.
Marussia’s newly appointed race driver Luis Razia had a tough baptism; he missed the majority of the day due to engine troubles this morning.
Jerez Test Day 2
1. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m18.218s 95 Laps
2. Paul di Resta Force India 1m19.003s + 0.785s 95
3. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m19.134s + 0.916s 83
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.338s + 1.120s 101
5. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m19.502s + 1.284s 99
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m19.519s + 1.301s 15
7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m19.572s + 1.354s 81
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m19.914s + 1.696s 78
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m20.693s + 2.475s 71
10. James Rossiter Force India 1m21.273s + 3.055s 19
11. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m21.311s + 3.093s 88
12. Luiz Razia Marussia 1m23.537s + 5.319s 31