Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
Again a dry day at the Italian Mugello circuit during the third and final Formula One in-season test day. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was again fastest for Lotus, he lapped the circuit in 1m21.035s. Sebastian Vettel had been fastest in the morning, lapping the circuit in 1m21.267s in his Red Bull RB8 -- he didn’t improve his time in the afternoon and therefore ended the day in the second spot, 0.232s slower than Grosjean.
Vettel who completed a total of 106 laps was certainly happy after three days of testing. “It’s been a useful couple of days and I’ve enjoyed the track a lot,” said the 2010 and 2011 World Champion. “As usual we now have a lot of data to get through and that will take some time. We tried a few things and the results look encouraging; it’s always difficult to tell whether we improved and by how much, but we got some good laps and some good information.”
All eyes were again on Ferrari as Fernando Alonso was testing a completely revised rear aero package for the F2012, which included the Sauber/Red Bull style exhaust layout.
Unfortunately for the Italian team Alonso ran wide at Turn 12 in the morning session and hit the tyre barrier damaging the new front wing. Just before his outing the Spaniard had recorded the third fastest lap with a time of 1m21.363s. It took the Ferrari engineers two hours to assess and repair the damage before Alonso was able to continue testing. Despite his mishap he completed 98 laps and finished in third place with a time of 1m21.363s.
Another fast man was Australian Daniel Ricciardo who took fourth place for Toro Rosso, with 117 laps on the board. Like other teams Red Bull’s Italian sister team tested new aero parts, but Ricciardo was uncertain whether they made a big difference, “With new parts you always hope they will deliver a big improvement, but the reality is that we must now look at the data to see where we really are. Certainly, from the cockpit I was happy with the feeling I had from the car and I really enjoyed driving this beautiful circuit again.”
Sauber’s Sergio Perez was also fast and landed 5th position, in the morning he went off track twice but without any major damage to the car. In the afternoon Sauber tested new aero parts by doing long runs on high fuel loads.
Next on the time sheets is Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, he had taken over from Paul di Resta who was in the car during the morning. The German commented, “There was a lot [testing] to get through, but the main priority was on understanding the car we have here and making sure we feel ready for Barcelona. There’s a lot of data to go through before we get there and we also have to look at how the different tyre compounds behaved.”
Williams encountered a few problems, Pastor Maldonado only completed four laps in the morning due to electrical problems, but was able to continue in the afternoon. “We lost some time this morning but we had a good afternoon. The track is amazing so it was good to get a few runs completed this afternoon. We gathered a lot of data and I feel positive heading into the next race,” the Venezuelan driver said.
Mercedes were again gathering lots of data at Mugello today as Nico Rosberg completed an impressive 129 laps which like yesterday means the engineers have loads of data to sift through in order to make a proper assessment of this week’s test.
“Today, we learned a lot about tyre management, and this should help us at the next race in Barcelona. There is still a lot of work to do of course, and we do need to improve our car in fast corners, but overall I am pleased with the progress that we have made here this week,” said Rosberg.
But Heikki Kovalainen was king of the road after completing 139 laps today in the Caterham testing different tyre compounds and setups. The Finn was pleased with today’s work, “I enjoyed myself out there today -- even though a lot of what we were doing was pretty repetitive, it's still a good place to drive an Formula One car around and having got through everything we'd planned it's good to leave this test on a positive note.”
Meanwhile Vitaly Petrov, who drove the Caterham yesterday, criticized the decision to test at Mugello, “I’m not sure the track is right for today's Formula One cars, you get very close to the walls and it's maybe a bit small for the cars now.” Petrov voiced his concerns after Mugello Circuit Director Paolo Poli yesterday said he was interested in hosting a Grand Prix.
Today the first in-season test days since 2008 ended, it will also be the last in-season test of the year as the FIA and the teams have agreed not to spend too much money on testing.
On Tuesday Alonso was fastest for Ferrari; yesterday Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi shared first place; and today Grosjean was again fastest for Lotus.
Next stop for Formula One is the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13.
Formula One Mugello, Italy testing - Day 2
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:21.267||+ 0.232||106|
|3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||1:21.363||+ 0.328||98|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:22.143||+ 0.569||117|
|5||Sergio Perez||Sauber||1:22.229||+ 0.879||118|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:22.325||+ 0.975||55|
|7||Pastor Maldonado||Williams||1:22.497||+ 1.147||63|
|8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||1:22.579||+ 1.229||129|
|9||Oliver Turvey||McLaren||1:22.662||+ 1.312||99|
|10||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:23.002||+ 1.652||34|
|11||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham||1:23.169||+ 1.819||139|
|12||Timo Glock||Marussia||1:23.466||+ 2.116||110|