Lotus blooms with times in Spain
TIME FOR REFLECTION: Jenson Button (McLaren) arrives at Catalunya for pre-season testing. He was beaten into second place by Lotus' Romain Grosjean. Image: AFP
BARCELONA, Spain - Lotus-Renault's French driver Romain Grosjean posted the fastest lap here on the first day of final testing ahead of the start of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
Grosjean clocked 1min23.252 at the Catalunya circuit at Montmelo, north of Barcelona - a welcome upturn in for his team which was forced to skip the first week of 2012 testing in February because of a problem with the car's chassis.
Grosjean said: "We lost some days last week - now we have to work twice as hard to get back those days - I hope the car is good right from the beginning."
The French driver beat the time set by McLaren's Jenson Button in the opening session (1min 23.510) in the final 15 minutes on his 74 lap.
McLaren team manager David Redding said: "Having completed more than 2000km at Barcelona last week, today was always going to be more about quality than quantity. We wanted to drill a little deeper into our understanding of the car and that meant undertaking some bigger set-up changes that wouldn't be available to us during a GP weekend."
Formula champion Red Bull was fourth fastest with Mark Webber behind the wheel. He said: "We're here at the last test, it's starting to build up for the first race, and we're pretty excited though we still have plenty to go through this week... but so far, so good.
"We certainly have a few more boxes to tick and some crucial data to gather. These three days will be really important."
NO RUN FOR MARUSSIA
Ferrari had a low-key session. Felipe Massa was eighth fastest as the team got to grips with their new car.
Two of the 12 F1 teams - HRT and Marussia (the latter raced as Virgin in 2012) - were absent again. HRT wants to have a car ready for a run on the final day's testing on Sunday; Marussia won't be able to test at all after failing a mandatory crash test.
This is the third and final test session before before the 2012 F1 campaign starts in Melbourne on March 18.
THE TIMES / LAPS
1 Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault) 1min23.252 (73)
2 Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1min23.510 (64)
3 Sergio Perez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari) 1min23.820 (118)
4 Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault) 1min23.830 (102)
5 Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes-AMG) 1min23.992 (128)
6 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1min24.216 (113)
7 Paul Di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes) 1min24.305 (98)
8 Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari) 1min24.318 (105)
9 Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Caterham-Renault) 1min24.876 (123)
10 Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault) 1min5.587 (58)