Grosjean tops testing in Lotus
SETTING THE PACE: Lotus driver Romain Grosjean set the fastest lap time at Jerez during testing on Wednesday.
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
JEREZ, Spain, - French driver Romain Grosjean handed over to Lotus team mate Kimi Raikkonen on Wednesday after setting the fastest lap on the track so far in Formula 1's first pre-season test.
The Frenchman, who endured a crash-prone first full season in 2012, completed 95 laps with a best time of 1min18 in the Spanish sunshine.
On a day when rivals Mercedes completed just 15 laps - with Lewis Hamilton crashing into the tyre wall after his brakes failed - the Renault-powered Lotus went around the circuit without any drama.
"It was good today," Grosjean said. "The programme went to plan and we showed we have good reliability. For me, the whole test has gone well which is promising for the year ahead.
"Even if it doesn't mean anything during testing, it's still good to be at the front."
Raikkonen, 2007 champion with Ferrari who finished third in the championship on his comeback with Lotus in 2012, will be in the car for the final two days on Thursday and Friday.
Australian Mark Webber pounded around for 101 laps, more than anyone else, in the new Red Bull RB9 to take his tally to 174 over the two days. Webber had the fourth-fastest time on another solid day for the World champions.
"In terms of consistency it's great," he said of the new RB9. "I'm very happy with the car and myself; overall it's been very good. The car gives me the confidence to push pretty hard and that's always an indication that you have something you can build on."
Triple World champion Sebastian Vettel will take over testing from Thursday (Jan 7).
Britain's Paul di Resta was second-fastest for Force India with Australian Daniel Ricciardo third for Toro Rosso, even if nobody was paying much attention to the time sheets.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was eighth, a place behind Mexican Sergio Perez who was making his test debut for McLaren after his move from Sauber.
"Today, we concentrated on the aerodynamic side and on the exhausts," said Massa, who used the morning to do aerodynamic tests and constant speed runs rather than trying to set a fast lap. "All the changes to the car took longer than planned but in the afternoon I managed three long runs which were very important to understand which direction we need to follow."
Marussia had new Brazilian signing Luiz Razia testing a car for the first time although an engine problem limited his track time in the afternoon.