Grosjean heads opening day’s F1 testing in Barcelona

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Lotus new-boy Romain Grosjean headed the first day of the third pre-season Formula 1 test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.

The Frenchman logged 73 laps in the E20, setting a best of 1:23.252 along the way.
It was a good start for what is a key test for the Enstone squad, after missing last week’s four-day run in Barcelona due to suspension issues*.

With much catching up to do Grosjean logged numerous short stints, completing systems checks, set-up and data correlation, before moving focus to aerodynamic runs.
There a brief interruption to their day, when the E20’s KERS battery unit required a change.

Jenson Button completed 64 laps in his McLaren MP4-27 as the Woking-based team continued their pre-season preparations. With updated components to arrive in time for the weekend’s running, the team concentrated on pitstop practices and detailed set-up work.
Sergio Perez went a little further in the Sauber C31. The Mexican pilot registered 118 laps, while the Swiss team evaluated new aerodynamic parts, before shifting focus to mechanical set-up work. A series of short runs on medium compound Pirelli’s prior to the afternoon break allowed Perez to set a series of quick times.

The reigning world champions, Red Bull, spent Thursday completing performance work, switching from short to long stints as the clock ticked. With Mark Webber behind the wheel, the team set 102 laps on the Barcelona circuit.
Nico Rosberg ran 128 laps as the Mercedes squad looked at set-up evaluations for race day performance, while Jean-Eric Vergne logged 113 laps amidst pit stop practices and set-up comparisons.

Paul di Resta fell just shy of a century of laps in his Mercedes-powered Force India. The Scot clocked 98 laps, while the team evaluated the first series of aerodynamic updates for the VJM05.
Felipe Massa concentrated on set-up variables and long distance runs in the Ferrari F2012, while Vitaly Petrov busied himself at the wheel of the Caterham CT01. The Russian, who was filling in for an ill Heikki Kovalainen, worked through a tyre evaluation programme, despite the discomfort of not having his moulded race seat available.
Williams tested their Melbourne race package on Thursday with Pastor Maldonado at the controls; however niggling reliability issues limited the Venezuelan’s running to only 58 tours.

* {note 1}
According to Lotus Technical Director James Allison, the E20 suffered from a problem with the mounting of the upper front wishbone rear arm.
At the time, it was thought there may have been a delamination problem with the E20, leaving the team with little choice but to withdraw both versions of the E20 from testing. Coming in at around 1kg heavier – a significant weight gain for a carbon fibre product – the new components have come with a potential competitive price.

Pos  Driver         Team            Time                Laps
 1.  Grosjean       Lotus           1m23.252s           73
 2.  Button         McLaren         1m23.510s  +0.258   64
 3.  Perez          Sauber          1m23.820s  +0.568   118
 4.  Webber         Red Bull        1m23.830s  +0.578   102
 5.  Rosberg        Mercedes        1m23.992s  +0.740   128
 6.  Vergne         Toro Rosso      1m24.216s  +0.964   113
 7.  Di Resta       Force India     1m24.305s  +1.053   98
 8.  Massa          Ferrari         1m24.318s  +1.066   105
 9.  Petrov         Caterham        1m24.876s  +1.624   123
10.  Maldonado      Williams        1m25.587s  +2.335   58
^ Notes compiled from trackside reports and updates.

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