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Romain Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi set identical lap times as Formula 1 testing continued at Mugello on Wednesday. With ideal weather, Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were next up, with Felipe Massa fifth on his only day of the week for Ferrari. A stoppage for Kobayashi caused a single red flag.
Following the dreadful conditions of Tuesday, when rain washed out practically the entire day, all teams were delighted to see sunshine and afternoon temperatures in the 20s. As a result, the majority choose not to focus on quick lap times, but crucial aerodynamic and tyre work in what is the only in-season test of 2012. A number of cars were seen running with sensors on-board and clad in luminous paint in order to gain a selection of measurements.
With a best effort of 1:21.603, Grosjean topped the timesheets early on in the day. Following the rain of Tuesday, Lotus decided that having one driver in the car for the next two days would allow for more accurate comparisons of changes over the constrained period, meaning Kimi Räikkönen will not drive this week. However, in accordance with their original plans, three teams did run two drivers as Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Marussia swapped their line-ups over the lunch break.
Appearing for the afternoon session and staying in the car for his only full day of the week tomorrow, Vettel was just over two tenths of a second down on Grosjean as Webber, Massa and Jean-Éric Vergne completed the leading quintet. The first driver to establish a century of laps by a long way, Michael Schumacher comfortably racked up the most mileage as he spent a full day behind the wheel at a circuit on which he has driven thousands of kilometres when testing for Ferrari in past years.
It was a tough time for Paul di Resta, who had completed just seven single laps when the afternoon period began; the Scot, on his only day of the week with Force India, was rooted to the garage as the team notified GPUpdate.net of a suspected hydraulics problem. At Sauber, Kobayashi was the reason for the day’s only stoppage as he spun into the gravel; however, he recovered and surprised everybody by matching Grosjean's P1 lap time, down to the thousandth, just before the chequered flag came out.
This week’s Italian gathering is also crucial for Pirelli, which was a big supporter of an in-season test; the company has been conducting various experiments with its tyres. Incidentally, the white-marked Medium compound was used for most of the day, but drivers did begin with the green-marked Intermediates on a damp circuit this morning.
Following the session, Lotus reported that Grosjean's leading lap time narrowly edged out that of Kobayashi by less than a thousandth of a second.
The final day of the Mugello test gets underway at 9am local time (BST +1) on Thursday and can also be tracked through the GPUpdate.net Live Test Report.
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