Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
Yesterday the rain in Mugello disrupted the first in-season test day since 2008, and also disrupted the test programmes teams had set up for their drivers, but today there was no rain and it was business as usual. Although early in the morning drivers were still out on intermediates, the circuit soon dried out and then it was finally time for the real test work.
Romain Grosjean was fastest in the morning for Lotus with a time of 1m21.603, although it must be said testing in Mugello is more about testing aero parts and tyres, rather than putting the fastest time on the clock. Nevertheless Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi equaled the Frenchman’s time at the end of the afternoon, so both drivers top today’s timesheets. The Japanese driver actually had a big off at Turn 12 earlier in the afternoon before he set his fastest time.
Lotus announced that Grosjean would also test on Thursday, which means Kimi Raikkonen will not be present at Mugello at all. “We've opted for one driver for the next two days so we can make better use of the time after losing this afternoon's running,” Chief of Trackside Operations Alan Permane said yesterday.
Mark Webber, who also tested for Red Bull yesterday, was second fastest in the morning after he had completed 54 laps, but would hand over the wheel to his team colleague Sebastian Vettel in the afternoon, the 2010 and 2011 World Champion will also test the Red Bull tomorrow during the final test day.
Webber admitted these test days are important for the next race in Spain, “We had absolutely truckloads 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.”
Vettel scored the third fasted time, just 0.222s slower than Grosjean and Kobayashi. The German completed 56 laps, which means Red Bull completed 110 laps in total today on the ultra-fast Tuscany circuit.
Vettel, who is a fan of the Mugello circuit, gathered a lot of data for the team in the afternoon, “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.”
Felipe Massa took over from Fernando Alonso; the Spaniard will be back in the Ferrari seat tomorrow. Massa completed an impressive 106 laps in the Ferrari F2012; the Brazilian tested new aerodynamic parts for Spain and set the fifth fastest time.
Both Toro Rosso drivers were in the car today, Jean-Eric Vergne was fastest and took sixth place while Daniel Ricciardo was seventh. Vergne commented, “In the short time I have been in Formula One, I would say this was the best day’s testing I have done: 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.”
Even more impressive was Michael Schumacher’s lap tally -- he had some catching up to do as he hadn’t been able to set a time yesterday afternoon due to the atrocious conditions -- he lapped the Mugello circuit 144 times today in his Mercedes and was eighth fastest with a time of 1m23.404s.
“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,” said Schumacher.
Vitaly Petrov was tenth fastest in the Caterham, and was pleased with today’s result, “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 run plan. This afternoon we started running some new parts and even though it's too early to make any judgments 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.”
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will also skip the Mugello test days, and Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey will test some upgrades McLaren has for the Spanish Grand Prix. Today Paffett was behind the wheel again but he had to abandon testing in the afternoon due to a gearbox problem.
Charles Pic was in the Marussia in the morning conducting setup evaluations, and also tested a completely new rear suspension. Timo Glock took over in the afternoon but encountered power steering problems, which forced the team to replace the complete steering rack which did cost them valuable time.
Thus the German was not happy today, “Not a great second part of the day 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.”
Force India driver Paul di Resta experienced hydraulic problems in the morning, and the Scot was not able to set a time. At the end of the afternoon he was finally able to do a few laps and scored the 13th time. “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,” di Resta said.
Tomorrow is the third and final test day at Mugello, a circuit that all drivers love, as it has a very long straight, but also has fast corners, short hairpins and elevation differences.
Stay tuned for the final Mugello test report on Motorsport.com tomorrow.
Formula One Mugello, Italy testing - Day 2
|2||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber||1:21.603||+ 0.000||87|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:21.825||+ 0.222||64|
|4||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:21.997||+ 0.394||54|
|5||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1:22.257||+ 0.654||106|
|6||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:22.422||+ 0.819||65|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:22.588||+ 0.985||22|
|8||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||1:23.404||+ 1.801||144|
|9||Charles Pic||Marussia||1:23.982||+ 2.379||46|
|10||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham||1:24.312||+ 2.709||112|
|11||Gary Paffett||McLaren||1:24.480||+ 2.877||59|
|12||Timo Glock||Marussia||1:24.499||+ 2.896||37|
|13||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:24.749||+ 3.146||14|
|14||Bruno Senna||Williams||1:24.842||+ 3.239||100|