(© Ben Johnston 2015)
The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean ended a chaotic final day of on track action at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya top of the time-sheets.
The Frenchman completed 111 laps in the E23 Hybrid and set a benchmark time of 1m 24.067s to end the day just ahead of the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg who set a 1m 24.321s completing 131 laps. Speaking after the session Grosjean stated:
‘It was great to get behind the wheel of the E23 once more. Conditions were pretty tricky with quite a bit of wind, especially early on, but the car ran well, meaning we could complete the tests we wanted to – even if I had to modify my lines in the morning because the wind was pushing the car! We made some good improvements with the balance and set-up over the course of the day and it felt a lot better after we made changes for the afternoon. We completed a very promising mileage and it’s always good to see your name at the top of the timing monitors, even if it is far too early to know what everyone else is doing.’
The Enstone outfit conclude the first Barcelona test having topped the time-sheets on two of the four days of running as Pastor Maldonado lead on day three. This is extremely encouraging for the Enstone outfit who missed the opening day of winter testing in Jerez two weeks ago. The team made the switch to Mercedes power units over the winter.
Speaking about how their programme went Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester stated:
‘We’ve enjoyed a solid first test in Barcelona with good reliability and encouraging performance. The biggest positive we have seen so far is the reliability of the E23 which is enabling us to push along with our assessments and evaluations over the course of 361 laps or 1680km. It was good to have Romain in the car so we could add his feedback to that we’ve already received here from Pastor and Jolyon. Today was particularly windy, making it harder to work on car balance assessments, but we conducted a productive race simulation in the afternoon as well as other performance evaluations. During this test, we’ve completed plenty of laps so we have plenty to be working on over the next three days before we’re back in action here.’
Nico Rosberg commented on his day for Mercedes saying:
‘Today was actually a really difficult day. In the morning the tyres weren’t really working properly and then it was so windy out on track until late in the day. It was difficult to understand in the car because every run was different from corner to corner.
Depending on where the wind was coming from, the car felt totally different. So it really made testing extremely tough today. Even the sun was making it tricky at the end once the wind dropped down, as it was just on the horizon. Some of the corners were absolutely blind so you just had to commit to it by memory.
But anyway, together with the team I was still able to learn a few things and it was a good end to the test with no major problems on the car and a lot of useful running at the end when the wind was calmer. Looking at the times it’s of course still not clear where we stand and we’re keeping a close eye on the competition. But we’re confident that we have a good car at least.’
Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat was third fastest. The Russian covered 102 laps of the Barcelona circuit with a fastest time of 1m 24.941s. Speaking following testing, Kvyat stated:
‘It was another good day for us, We got through the programme quite nicely and achieved the desired amount of laps. We learned a lot that will be of benefit in the future and that’s what testing is all about. It was pretty windy out there today and it was quite tricky at times but we got the programme done and the lap time wasn’t bad at all. The steps we are making are encouraging and there is plenty of potential there.’
The Milton Keynes based outfit have covered 415 laps over the course of the opening four days in Barcelona. Speaking about the test, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin commented saying:
‘We got through everything we wanted to do today, so the test ends on a positive note. After the mapping work early this morning we had planned to give Dany a short run but there were quite a few red flags and the last one, for Fernando, was serious enough to end the morning session. It’s good to note that he is OK. Because of that we switched the short run to the afternoon and that was pretty decent. After that it was more long runs to end the day. This test was never about performance for us – it was about achieving stability and reliability, getting in some pit stop practice, working on procedural things with the mechanics making sure we could run a race weekend without issue, which we did,. We achieved all of that and it puts us in a good place for the final test next week when hopefully we’ll begin to build in performance.’
The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr finished the test in fourth place completing 73 laps with a fastest time of 1m 24.956s the Brazilian ended the day just ahead of Williams Martini Racing’s Valtteri Bottas who completed 129 laps in the FW37 with a 1m 25.345s.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz was 6th fastest despite bringing out the red flag following an incident with his STR10. The Spaniard completed 88 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.604s. Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who completed set up work and tyre testing completing 76 laps in SF15-T. The German finished the day just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who stopped out on track bringing the session to a halt while they recovered his car.
Fernando Alonso was ninth fastest for McLaren completing just 20 laps following a crash. Winter testing concludes in Barcelona next week, giving the teams four more day to perfect their new cars before the opening race in Melbourne on March 15.
© Ben Johnston 2015