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Romain Grosjean again finished on top after a dramatic day of winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Lotus driver headed the Friday timesheets from Jean-Éric Vergne and World Champion Sebastian Vettel, as the delayed session was interrupted by no less than eight separate red flag periods.
Echoing the words of Nico Rosberg from yesterday, conditions were ‘too good’ for the teams which were able to enjoy fantastic sunshine for almost all of the day. However, things looked very different early on as heavy fog delayed proceedings and meant the session would not start until half an hour later than it should have; as a result, the afternoon period was extended to half past five to cater for lost time.
It was a bizarre day for stoppages, with Pastor Maldonado bringing out what was the second red flag as he stopped at Turn 6 just minutes after the session began. Six more separate pauses were to follow, excluding the customary lunch break, as Vergne, Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Nico Hülkenberg all stopped on-track. There was also a second interruption for Schumacher as the seven-time time winner went off into the gravel at Turn 5, plus a delay as marshals cleared debris from the second corner. As a result of the postponements, overall lap numbers were lower than usual.
Although Fernando Alonso set the fourth fastest time of the day, the Spaniard performed yet more straight-line aerodynamic testing past the pits. The F2012 could also be seen sliding in corners as – like Alonso yesterday – team-mate Felipe Massa watched from various points around the circuit. It was a low-key affair for Williams, with Bruno Senna taking over from Pastor Maldonado in the afternoon and the duo completing the classification.
Tyre ages and fuel loads remain as confidential as ever, but lap times closed up dramatically in the afternoon, with less than a second covering the top nine as the final hour commenced; the group in question was completed by Lewis Hamilton who, like several drivers on-track today, was enjoying his first track time of the week.
Raising several eyebrows was Lotus, as (like Toro Rosso's Vergne) Grosjean experienced his last day of running before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Despite the team’s suspension problem which ended last week’s test after just 20 miles of running, the Franco-Swiss delivered a string of consistent laps during his long afternoon run, setting the overall best time just over ten minutes before the final chequered flag.
Inside the top five was the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen, who was back on-track after being taken ill with food poisoning and missing out on any running on Thursday. Marussia has not visited Barcelona after failing its final FIA crash test, whereas HRT is present at the track and pushing to debut its 2012 car at some point this weekend.
Formula 1 winter testing continues at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, with the green light coming on at 9am local time (GMT +1); questions can be submitted to our reporters in the GPUpdate.net Live Test Report
Scuderia Toro Rosso
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