Feb.9 (PVM) Mercedes GP topped the timing screens for the second day in a row, during the first official Formula 1 tests at Jerez de la Frontera, this time with Nico Rosberg doing duty in the cockpit of last year’s MGP-W02 with some 2012 parts bolted in place for evaluation ahead of their new car’s first appearance at the next test in Barcelona.
Rosberg’s time of 1 minute 17.613 seconds was almost a second up on his team mate Michael Schumacher’s best 24 hours earlier. Rosberg racked up 118 laps in a productive day for the Silver Arrows.
Next best, and fastest of the drivers in a 2012 car, was F1 returnee Romain Grosjean, driving the Lotus E20, who ended the the session with a best lap time of 1 minute 18.419 seconds – 0.806 down on Rosberg’s best but 0.878 faster than the next best on the day – also the fastest time set with a new car so far this year. The Frenchman ended the day with 117 laps on the chart.
Grosjean looked particularly comfortable in the E20, setting his time early in the day and indicating that the Enstone factory has yet again produced a decent car out the box.
World champion Sebastian Vettel, and former champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were having their first outings of the year in their respective new cars. Vettel finished the day third quickest in the Red Bull RB8, with Hamilton fourth fastest – the pair completing 96 and 80 laps respectively.
Rookie Jean Eric Vergne had his first sampling of the Toro Rosso SRT7 and was also quickly into a reasonably fast groove on his way to notching up 79 laps and the fifth fastest time. The Frenchman was fastest of the trio of Ferrari powered cars of which Sergio Perez was next best (sixth) in the Sauber C31 and Alonso ending the day seventh on the timing sheets – nearly two seconds down on Grosjean…
Bruno Senna did 125 laps on his first day in the Williams FW34 cockpit with new boy Giedo van der Garde ninth, and last of the runners, 5.711 seconds down on the top pace.
It was an unhappy day for Jules Bianchi in the Force India VJM05 who was caught out by a cold track, skimmed the sand trap before ending in the wall at Curva Sito Pons.
This prompted the first red flag of the day, but more critical is that the team were not able to run for the rest of the day which was bad news for Nico Hulkenberg who was due to get his first run in the VJM05 during the afternoon session. The team are flying parts which should enable the German to do laps on the final day.
The HRT garage remained closed on day three, after running for two days with Pedro de la Rosa in the team’s 2011 car, while Marussia has not been present at all for the first test.
Friday is the final day of testing at the venue in south western Spain. The second collective testing takes place at Circuito de Catalunya, near Barcelona, from 21 to 24 February.
Jerez Testing Day 3 Results – Thursday, 9 February 2012
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