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Grosjean on top again on day two of final F1 test

March 3, 2012

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Romain Grosjean claimed the fastest lap on day two of the final pre-season Formula 1 test in Barcelona.

The French driver’s benchmark time of 1:22.614 left him half-a-second clear of the pack, following what proved to a busy day for the Enstone squad.

With the opening race only two weeks away, the team naturally concentrated on race distance runs and the challenges that brings, although the E20 suffered somewhat from excessive tyre degradation.
The team also completed numerous system checks, set-up comparisons and aero-focussed runs amongst other programmes, allowing the Grosjean to log 124 laps.

It was a less productive day for the Toro Rosso squad. An engine failure just prior to the lunch break, curtailed much of their test plan, leaving the Italian team to carry out brief pitstop practices and an aero-evaluation programme.
Red Bull endured a brief stoppage, but it did not stop Sebastian Vettel from registering 85 tours of the Circuit de Catalunya.

Fernando Alonso suffered no such problems in the Ferrari* F2012. The Spaniard completed 125 laps on a day filled with aerodynamic evaluation programmes and an afternoon race stint.
Heikki Kovalainen returned from illness to assume his position in the Caterham CT01, with the Finn clocking up 104 laps with tyre evaluations, followed by long runs in the afternoon.

Kamui Kobayashi suffered a hydraulic leak in the afternoon, losing the Sauber team one hour in the process. The issues were compounded by a number of stoppages throughout the day, disabling chances of clear stints.

The running was extended for an extra half-hour at the end of the day, due to late morning fog halting the session. There were multiple red flags throughout the day, which stuttered proceedings; however Kobayashi was quoted as being happy with C31’s handling under race conditions.
Force India also lost time with a driveline problem on the VJM05, disrupting a race simulation. Nico Hulkenberg did manage several runs in the morning, focussing on tyre evaluations for the medium and hard Pirelli’s.

Mercedes got 79 laps out of Michael Schumacher, much of which came in the afternoon as the team worked through set-up variations for the F1 W03.
Pitstop practices were the order of the morning at McLaren, before set-up assessments on the MP4-27 commenced. It would also be the final day McLaren ran their launch-spec aerodynamic package, with the team’s first upgrade expected for the third day.

There were also pitstop practices at Williams, as the Grove squad put new equipment and procedures into place. Unfortunately when it did come to on track running, Pastor Maldonado suffered an engine problem, costing the Venezuelan precious time. Pitstop practice continued into the afternoon, only this time Bruno Senna was in the driver’s seat.
It had been a bigger news day off track at Williams. Team Principal Frank Williams announced that he is to step down from the board at Williams Grand Prix Holdings, although Williams will retain his majority shareholding of the company and will continue in his role as Team Principal.
Daughter, Claire Williams, has been promoted to the role of Director of Marketing and Communications – a position being vacated by Dominic Reilly** at the end of this month.

* {note 1}
Indeed Alonso enjoyed a far better day than teammate Felipe Massa. Rumours of Massa’s dismissal from the Ferrari squad began to circulate on the Internet yesterday afternoon and as with many rumours within the digital realm, the whispers became “truth” within a matter of minutes.
Eventually Ferrari responded via their Twitter account – @InsideFerrari – labelling the rumours as “bullshit”, although that particular comment has since been removed.

** {note 2}
Although Dominic Reilly has spent much of his career in various marketing and sponsorship positions, he actually studied Zoology in the late 1980s at Swansea’s University of Wales (now known as simply Swansea University).
Apart from Reilly, there are several notable members of the university’s alumni, including Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers.

Pos  Driver         Team            Time                Laps
  1.  Grosjean       Lotus           1m22.614s           124
  2.  Vergne         Toro Rosso      1m23.126s  +0.512   31
  3.  Vettel         Red Bull        1m23.361s  +0.747   85
  4.  Alonso         Ferrari         1m23.447s  +0.833   125
  5.  Kovalainen     Caterham        1m23.828s  +1.214   104
  6.  Kobayashi      Sauber          1m23.836s  +1.222   77
  7.  Hulkenberg     Force India     1m23.893s  +1.279   36
  8.  Schumacher     Mercedes        1m23.978s  +1.364   79
  9.  Hamilton       McLaren         1m24.111s  +1.497   65
 10.  Senna          Williams        1m24.925s  +2.311   48
 11.  Maldonado      Williams        1m25.801s  +3.187   20
^ Notes compiled from trackside reports and updates.
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