After contending with wet and wild weather at the Italian Mugello circuit, Formula 1's teams had a much better time of it for the second and third scheduled in-season test days this week.
The wind died down, the sun came out from time to time and warmed the circuit making it easier for the teams and drivers to evaluate their cars ahead of next week's 2012 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix
Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean led the standings on both Wednesday and Thursday during the test, beating 13 other drivers on the second day and 12 on the final day of the test to (unofficially) pace the overall standings.
It was his Thursday lap of 1:21.035 (set over 66 laps) that beat all comers; Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel was second as the German completed 106 laps for a top time of 1:21.267. Fernando Alonso was third on Thursday at 1:21.363, running 98 laps despite an early off that put the Ferrari mechanics to work, needing two hours to repair his heavily-updated F3012..
After running a total of 163 laps in the E20-02 for the meeting Grosjean said, "It was another nice day today so I have been lucky with the weather here. We continued to work on the car and have gathered more valuable data. We made a big change to the car at lunchtime and everything went according to plan. Mugello," he explained, "puts high demands on the driver, so it's been a very good experience for me - and quite a workout!"
The reigning two-time champion, Vettel completed his program, focusing largely on aerodynamic tweaks to the RB8. "It's been a useful couple of days and I've enjoyed the track a lot. As usual, we now have a lot of data to get through and that will take some time. We tried a few things and the results look encouraging," Vettel stated, "but it's always difficult to tell whether we improved and by how much. We got some good laps and some good information."
Daniel Ricciardo performed 117 laps for fourth in the STR7-04, getting through "all our programs, which is always your first target at a test. With new parts you always hope they will deliver a big improvement, but the reality is that we must now look at the data to see where we really are."
Nico Hulkenberg - Photo courtesy Sahara Force India Formula 1 TeamEnlarge Photo
There were a total of 25 drivers on the track for the three-day event; NIco Rosberg turned the highest number of laps, 178 in the Mercedes to place 12th overall while Jules Biachi's 19 laps in the Sahara Force India race car were the fewest, 19, leaving him 23rd of the 25 on hand.
The unofficial top ten for the meeting were Grosjean, Vettel, Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Ricciardo, Mark Webber (Red Bull), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Felipe Massa for Ferrari, Nico Hulkenberg for Sahara Force India and Jean-Eric Vergne from Scuderia Toro Rosso.