Lotus’ Romain Grosjean has topped the time sheets at the Circuit de Catalunya, becoming the first man to top testing twice in 2013. Grosjean took the Super Soft Pirelli’s out on track which left him with a fastest lap of 1:22.716. The Frenchman’s 88 laps were set after track conditions improved following a wet and windy track in the morning. In fact, it was his late fast run that set him 0.3 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button in 2nd place.
Button completed 72 laps, the fastest of which was set on the Medium tires which suggests that the McLaren could be much faster than the Lotus if both run on a set of the Super Soft tires. Pastor Maldonado finished the session third overall, nearly a second off Grosjean’s time. His long run was cut short in the afternoon when he ground to a halt on the start/finish straight and brought out the red flags.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth overall having taken his RB9 for a tour of the gravel traps but still managing a time of 1:23.743 during his 65 laps of Catalunya. Nico Hulkenberg in 5th was 0.001 behind Sebastian Vettel – on the same tires. The only big variable would be fuel loads but it’s certainly interesting to see the difference between the two.
The third German in a row was Adrian Sutil in 6th place who was driving for the first time after being confirmed as Force India’s second driver on Thursday. In a very drawn out process, Jules Bianchi was looking odds on for the final seat at the team before Sutil arrived as if from the air to scoop the seat. His comeback was marked with 62 laps on the Medium tire which left him with a fastest lap of 1:24.215.
Daniel Ricciardo stayed in 7th place for Toro Rosso having suffered some technical issues early on. Getting back out on track for the afternoon, he set a best lap of 1:25.483 which was 1.3 behind Sutil’s 6th place time. In 8th place was Max Chilton who is still in the car as his team-mate, Luiz Razia looks at risk at the team. Since giving Glock the boot and paying his way into the team, he has not yet once taken the car out on track and the rumours suggest it’s because he is already suffering money problems.
Chilton’s 1:25.598 was set on the soft tires and was 0.8 seconds ahead of Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde who was ninth overall with 48 laps on the clock including causing a late red flag when his car ground to a halt.
Bringing up the rear is Nico Rosberg in 11th with a 1:26.655 and Fernando Alonso in 12th with 1:27.878. Both men targeted long runs with high fuel levels which explains the slow times – Alonso’s being the only best lap to be set on the Hard tires.
Testing continues tomorrow when Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Pastor Maldonado, Valterri Bottas, Jean-Eric Vergne, Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton will take their respective cars out on track.