The first preseason testing for the Formula One teams ended today with the new Lotus E21 on top of the unofficial times sheet again. Kimi Raikkonen laid down a 1:18.148, but more important for the team is the reliability that the new car has shown while their rivals for the crown this year have not shown the same promise.
"Our focus has been testing parts on the car, but I’ve been able to get the set-up more to my liking," said Raikkonen. "For sure there’s more work to be done in this area, but that’s what we’re here for. The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we’re going with improvements.”
Of course this is only the first set of the preseason test days, and many were evaluating parts and making changes over the past four days. For now, the Lotus team and their two drivers go home with a feeling of accomplishment. Romain Grosjean topped the unofficial times on the second day at Jerez.
During the four days in Spain, the teams were working with the new Pirelli tires also, and evaluating setups. Raikkonen did short runs on the soft tires when he sat the fastest lap time.
Second today went to Jules Bianchi for the Force India team with his best of lap at 1:18.175. The Frenchman might yet be named as the second driver; especially since he proved his ability today. About his first time in the VJM06, Bianchi said, “My first experience of the new car was very positive and it’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car. I spent most of the time on the medium tyres, but I got a chance to run the softs as well and they offered a lot of grip so I enjoyed that.”
Fourth fastest today was Esteban Gutierrez with a 1:18.669. Most important for the Sauber F1 rookie was getting acclimated to the car as he put down 142 laps on the C32. Afterwards, he commented: "It was a very positive day, because we managed to do a lot of laps. We did some new tyre runs at mid-day, and then we did some long runs with high fuel in the afternoon, which gave me the chance to try the car in all different circumstances. It was very interesting for me, because I was able to feel very different things, and I learnt how to adapt my driving style to different situations. It was great to do this at a test, because now I have time to analyse it all and then go to Barcelona on a stronger basis. I’m really happy how things went.“
The 2008 world champion said, "Today we managed the kind of mileage that the car is capable of and I think we have a good platform to start working from. Now we need to understand the F1 W04 even more: personally, I am learning something with every lap I do and every change I make to the set-up. Overall, I think we are probably at the level we would have hoped to be.”
|2||Jules Bianchi||Sahara Force India||1:18.175||56|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:18.565||96|
|5||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:18.760||92|
|6||Lewis Hamilton||MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS||1:18.905||145|
|9||Pedro De La Rosa||Ferrari||1:20.316||51|
|12||Paul Di Resta||Sahara Force India||1:23.435||49|