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Barcelona day two - a French one-two in Spain 02 Mar 2012

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 E20 running aero vis paint on the race wing.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 pushed back in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/27 practices a pit stop.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012

Lotus’s Romain Grosjean became the first driver to top the times twice during this year’s pre-season testing on Friday after he again led the way at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. Grosjean’s late lap of 1m 22.614s put him half a second clear of fellow Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.

In a session delayed briefly - and subsequently extended - due to morning fog, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel ended up third fastest, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi.

“I’m very happy with the car, and it was great that we could still run strongly at the end of the session, even after a long stint,” said Grosjean, who completed a mammoth 124 laps. “At the start of the day we suffered slightly with tyre degradation, but we changed a few things and this improved as the day went on. Today was the first race distance I’ve completed in a long time and I’m feeling pretty good. No doubt my neck will be a little sore tomorrow, but the rest of me is fine!”

After setting the pace in the morning, Vergne lost almost all of the afternoon session to a failure that required an engine change, the Toro Rosso’s Ferrari V8 having nearly completed its planned running cycle. Team mate Daniel Ricciardo now takes over for the remaining two days of testing.

“Of course it is a shame my winter testing ended with a less than satisfactory day, with not so many laps completed,” said Vergne. “However, yesterday we did a lot of running and the team still has two more days here with Daniel and I believe we can therefore make up for lost time.

“The day was not a complete wash-out, as we got some useful data in the morning and did yet more pit stop practices this afternoon. Since Jerez, the team and I have worked very hard to get me as ready as possible for the season and now, I’m looking forward to taking part in my first ever Grand Prix when the championship starts in Australia.”

Vettel was one of several drivers to stop on track during the day, but the problem wasn’t serious and the world champion still managed 85 laps, with his third-fastest time coming despite Red Bull’s insistence that quick laps weren’t on their agenda.

“Seb got through most of the programme, which today was just background testing stuff, we weren’t focusing on performance at all,” said race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin. “There are a lot of boxes we need to tick to go racing and we got quite a few done today.”

Alonso worked on the Ferrari’s set-up and on aerodynamics in the morning, before completing a trouble-free Grand Prix simulation in the afternoon. The Spaniard hands over the F2012 to team mate Felipe Massa for the Scuderia's Saturday programme.

Caterham’s CT01 showed encouraging reliability and pace in the hands of Kovalainen, despite the Finn still not feeling 100 percent fit after the bout of food poisoning that ruled him out of Thursday’s running.

“We keep going in the right direction and seem to have put the little issues that were holding us up behind us and the number of laps we’ve now run means I’m starting to be able to fine tune the set-up and find a balance I’m really happy with,” he commented. “There’s still more to come in outright pace and we’ll work more on that tomorrow, but I think we can say this has been another good day for the whole team.”

Like many teams, Sauber’s focus was also on simulating race conditions, though the Swiss squad found themselves frustrated by several red flags in the morning and a hydraulics problem on Kobayashi’s C31 in the afternoon.

“With regard to our lap times, we are quite happy with today’s achievements,” reported Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber’s head of track engineering. “In terms of running through our programme, we have been a bit unlucky. For us today the red flags always came out at the wrong time. But this is how it goes, and we have also had days when interruptions didn’t do us any harm.

“However, today it was difficult to find a good rhythm, and then later on we lost more than an hour due to a hydraulic leak. The fact that we had to remove the gearbox to fix it was very time consuming. Overall we gained some good experience with the car, and there is still more to be learnt about it.”

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest after completing a disappointingly meagre 36 laps in the VJM05. “It hasn’t been the most straightforward day as we lost most of the afternoon session with a driveline issue,” explained chief engineer Jakob Andreasen. “The plan had been to attempt a race distance, so we will need to reschedule this for tomorrow when Paul [di Resta] is back in the car. Fortunately we had a productive morning when Nico carried out some new tyre appraisals of the hard and medium compounds, and we also ran through our race weekend procedures.”

Both Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton reported positive progress after finishing a low-key eighth and ninth respectively. Mercedes caused two of the day’s red flags. McLaren concluded evaluation of their launch-spec aero package and will introduce a new suite of updates on Saturday.

The Williams duo of Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado completed Friday’s timesheet, the Brazilian running in the morning, the Venezuelan in the afternoon.

“Today the team concentrated on practising our pit stops, completing 68 mostly in- and out-laps to get the drivers and pit crew used to the new equipment and procedures,” said chief operations engineer Mark Gillan. “Pastor's morning session was compromised with an engine-related problem which, although easy to rectify, took some time to identify. Bruno's running in the afternoon was trouble free.”

Testing continues at Barcelona until Sunday.

Unofficial Friday test times from Barcelona:
1. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.614, 124 Laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.126, 45 Laps
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.361, 85 Laps
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:23.447, 125 Laps
5. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:23.828, 104 Laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:23.836, 77 Laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:23.893, 36 Laps
8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:23.978, 79 Laps
9. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:24.111, 65 Laps
10. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:24.925, 48 Laps
11. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:25.801, 20 Laps

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