The teams make up for a rain-disrupted first day with a full programme on day two of F1 testing at Mugello…
Four teams have won races already in 2012 but it was the two teams who’ve looked most likely to join that list who shared the honours on day two at Mugello. Romain Grosjean, driving for Lotus, and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi both posted times of 1:21.603 to lead the order in Italy on a day where fine weather replaced yesterday’s thunderstorms.
“It’s always good to end the day on top, but we have to remember that in testing lap times mean very little,” said Grosjean. “This test gives us an opportunity to try things we wouldn’t have time to do during a race weekend, so hopefully it’ll help us to keep pushing forward. We’ve done a lot of set-up work today and we’ll need some time to look through all the data and analyse what we need to focus on tomorrow.”
Behind them came Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Vettel’s best time in the afternoon was two-tenths off the pace set by Grosjean and Kobayashi, and a tenth ahead of Webber, who ran in the morning. Between them they managed 118 laps.
“The track finally dried out today and the Tuscan weather kicked in at last, “ said Webber. “We had absolutely truck loads of stuff to go through, but so far so good. Mileage is so limited these days that it was good to be in the car again. The test has been very useful.”
“We’ve got a lot of laps to get through,” added Vettel. “We’ll be trying to sort out a lot of the items we’ve been testing at previous events and things we might want to use in the future. The really important thing will be the analysis after this test to see what happens to the car.”
Fifth quickest was Felipe Massa for Ferrari. He spent much of his day doing half-speed aero runs with a now-familiar sensor top hat fitted to his role hoop. He still managed to break through the 100-lap mark when his team switched to a study of tyre behaviour later in the day.
Jean-Eric Vernge completed his test for Toro Rosso before handing over to Daniel Ricciardo in the afternoon. Vergne was testing different diffusers in the morning, while Ricciardo's job was to employ different exhaust packages.
“This was the best day’s testing I've done,” said Vergne. “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. Daniel still has more things to try tomorrow and if we can put all the best elements from this test together, then I'm hopeful it will represent a step forward in Barcelona.”
Michael Schumacher, in eighth place, put in more miles than anyone with 144 laps. After so many years racing for Ferrari, testing at Mugello was a sort of homecoming for the seven-times champion. “I've done so many kilometres on this beautiful track and today I've added quite a few more,” said Schumacher. “We tested some new things, which I won't to go into detail about, so it's definitely worth coming here.”
Ninth was Charles Pic for Marussia, who completed 46 laps and then handed over to Timo Glock. Glock spent much of his afternoon in the garage with his steering rack being replaced. Tenth placed Vitaly Petrov put in 112 laps for Caterham as the team tried out components of its Barcelona upgrade package.
“We completed everything we targeted,” said Petrov. “This afternoon we started running some new parts and even though it's too early to make any judgements on them, I can say the new rear-wing immediately felt like it was giving us more downforce."
Gary Paffett managed 59 laps for McLaren before a gearbox issue halted his progress. Paul di Resta’s day was even more severely curtailed. The Scot managed just 14 laps after a hydraulic problem sent Force India back to the garage.
“It’s never nice to spend so much time in the garage, but we had a few reliability concerns that we needed to resolve,” said chief engineer Jakob Andreasen. “We suspected the issue was related to the hydraulic system so changed that as a precaution. At the same time we brought forward the engine change, which had been planned for the end of the session. It's been a tough day for the guys in the garage, but they did a great job to get the car out for the final half-hour and give Paul the chance to complete a handful of laps.”
Last on the time sheet was Bruno Senna for Williams. Following the pattern set in the winter, the team concentrated on aero and mechanical work and were in no hurry to set quick times on the soft rubber.
“We gained a lot of information from our runs and have some good knowledge to carry into tomorrow,” said Senna. “We aim to continue improving and to be competitive on the final day. Mugello is an awesome track. It’s really fast and physically challenging.”
As Bruno says, tomorrow is the final day of testing, but the analysis will continue into next week before the teams head to Barcelona for the first European race of the season.
1. Romain Grosjean (Lotus): 1:21.603 97
2. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber): 1:21.60387
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing): 1:21.82564
4. Mark Webber (Red BullRacing): 1:21.99754
5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari): 1:22.257106
6. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso): 1:22.42265
7. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso): 1:22.58822
8. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes): 1:23.404144
9. Charles Pic (Marussia):1:23.98246
10. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham): 1:24.312112
11. Gary Paffett (McLaren): 1:24.48059
12. Timo Glock (Marussia): 1:24.44937
13. Paul Di Resta (Force India): 1:24.74914
14. Bruno Senna (Williams): 1:24.842100