Lotus end first Barcelona test fastest

Romain Grosjean concluded the first of two pre-season tests in Barcelona by going fastest.

It was his one and only appearance in the car at this test and he completed 111 laps over the course of the day. His fastest lap signified the end of a strong test for Lotus who were fastest on three of the four days. Pastor Maldonado set the fastest time on the first day of running before handing the car over to test driver Jolyon Palmer on day two. Maldonado returned to the top of the times when he resumed running yesterday.

The order of the day was a race simulation for Grosjean which he abandoned towards the end. His fastest lap was set late on in the afternoon on the super-soft compound tyre. Nico Rosberg, who ended up second, set a lap-time just two tenths shy of the second using the medium tyre. Pirelli report that they expect a difference of about one and a half to two seconds between the medium and super soft compounds making the Mercedes pace look particularly ominous. His day started with a trip to the gravel trap after just 25 minutes but he recovered from that to complete 131 laps, the most of anyone.

Daniil Kvyat’s lap-time was set on the soft compound tyre. He caused one of the red flags after spinning out at turn three. Felipe Nasr’s running was compromised by mechanical problems in the morning after the car stopped at the end of the pit-lane. Valtteri Bottas, who spent much of yesterday completing pit-stop practice, went for longer runs today and set the fifth fastest lap of the day. Early pace-setter Carlos Sainz Jr ended the day sixth fastest and caused one of the red flags.

Sebastian Vettel completed 76 laps in the Ferrari as the team focused on reliability with long runs. They also took the opportunity to test various settings and tyre configurations, with a number of components being changed on the car leading to lengthy periods of the car not running. Nico Hulkenberg’s first appearance at pre-season testing was another one which ended early after the power unit failed. Force India are running the 2014 car – and engine – and were focused on evaluating the 2015 tyres and racking up the mileage.

The biggest news of the day was Fernando Alonso’s turn 3 crash. McLaren had spent the first couple of hours fitting a new part to the car, in order to prevent the MGU-K failure which hampered other days of running. They also carried out pit-stop practice before sending Alonso out for his first run. They announced that they were due to split the running between Alonso and Jenson Button to ensure both drivers got some significant mileage. Following his crash Alonso was taken to the medical centre before being flown to hospital for precautionary checks. The team released the following statement after the incident:

Today at 12:35 CET, while testing at the Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona), during the fourth and final day of the current test, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda car left the track at Turn Three, causing the right-hand side of his car to strike the wall.

Fernando was driven to the circuit’s Medical Centre where the circuit’s doctors gave him first aid.

He was conscious and spoke with the doctors.

However, as per usual procedure in such circumstances, he was then airlifted to hospital where he is undergoing precautionary checks.

We will issue a further update in due course.

Alonso was given the all clear following scans but he will remain in hospital overnight for observation. In turn McLaren packed up the garage, bringing an end to a difficult second test for them.

The times after the fourth and final day of running were:

  1. Romain Grosjean – 1:24.067 – 111 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:24.321 – 131 laps
  3. Daniil Kvyat – 1:24.941 – 104 laps
  4. Felipe Nasr – 1:24.956 – 73 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:25.345 – 129 laps
  6. Carlos Sainz Jr – 1:25.604 – 88 laps
  7. Sebastian Vettel – 1:26.312 – 76 laps
  8. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:26.591 – 36 laps
  9. Fernando Alonso – 1:27.956 – 20 laps

The third and final pre-season test commences in Barcelona on Thursday 26th February.

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