Friday, March 2, 2012

Barcelona Days One and Two: Black and Gold

Today marked the second day of the final pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Thus far the meeting has seen the Lotus team, which was forced to sit out the last test due to chassis problems, grab all of the headlines and complete an impressive number of laps. The black and gold liveried E20, driven on both of the opening days by Romain Grosjean, set times of 1:23.252 and 1:22.614 respectively. Lotus’s issue, which was revealed earlier this week to be a problem concerning the E20’s suspension mounting, did not appear to trouble last year’s GP2 champion, Grosjean at all as he fought off challenges from both McLaren and Torro Rosso. “I think drivers are mad in a way, you don’t think about it.” he stated. “When you jump in a car you never think that it could be dangerous. I knew the team had worked really hard, I knew the team was doing what we needed to and I knew the numbers said it was fine, so no worries.”

When asked to predict where Lotus stood in relation to the rest of the 2012 Formula 1 teams, Grosjean was adamant that while the E20 will most likely be competitive, it is probably not the class of the field. “There are a few teams that are ahead, let’s say Red Bull and McLaren are really good at the moment.” He stated. “It’s going to be tight. If you look at the cars everyone has pushed their own designs on from the previous year. If you look at Force India for example it is more or less the same shape but just tighter, Red Bull as well. Our car is the same and I think the gap will be closer.”

Interestingly enough, the Swiss native failed to mention Ferrari in his interview. The Italian team has continued to progress quietly in the initial days of the final test before Melbourne, with Felipe Massa going over 100 laps yesterday and Fernando Alonso completing a race simulation today. Still the F2012 is proving difficult to understand and technical director Pat Fry revealed that the team is experiencing issues with the car’s balance. “Yesterday we dropped in and out of having a good balance, and that’s something we are working to understand still.” He admitted. “I think yesterday there were a few times when the car was good and then it suddenly changed, and that’s what we’re trying to understand.”

With only two days of pre-season testing remaining, the teams will be eager to test last minute developments on their cars before the first race of the season. Ferrari has mentioned expecting at least four new developments before Sunday and both Red Bull and McLaren are also rumoured to be running updates this weekend. World Champion Sebastian Vettel summarised the overall importance of the final moments of the pre-season this afternoon. “The last couple of days of testing are always quite important as you always bring a few new things and it’s much closer to the car you will race in Melbourne.” Bearing that in mind, I am keeping my fingers crossed for Ferrari. Let’s hope that whatever the F2012’s issues are, these final updates help the team to field a car that is competitive from the beginning of the season. I am already starting to get that nervous feeling deep in my stomach and the Australian Grand Prix is still two weeks away…Once again, fingers crossed!

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