Lotus F1 appears to be having a nice test session in Jerez this week. Romain Grosjean set the pace for day 2 of testing while his teammate and 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, set the pace for day 3.
The Finn says that this year is easier as he knows the team better and they know him. They certainly do as they’ve created custom T-shirts with Kimi’s famous radio scolding saying, “Leave me along, I know what I’m doing”.
Raikkonen says this year’s car feels better than last year but he’s under no illusion that the team will go from 4th place to world champions over the course of a winter. Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes are all working hard as well.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel had set the pace in the morning session eclipsing Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez. The track experienced some difficulty as a hole had appeared and the circuit was forced to be closed until repairs could be made over lunch. The final session was extended thirty minutes to accomodate the repairs.
The takeaway for me is the pace of Jules Bianchi who is gunning for a seat at Force India. The team said they would announce their second driver, to team with Paul di Resta, at the first test but official announcements have not been offered as to their decision. Jules said:
“My first experience of the new car was very positive and it’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car. I spent most of the time on the medium tyres, but I got a chance to run the softs as well and they offered a lot of grip so I enjoyed that. It was also nice to do some long runs, so I’ve felt the car on heavy fuel, which is good for my experience. I’m pleased the team asked me to help out this week and I’m happy with how things went today.”
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m18.148s 83 2. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m18.175s + 0.027 56 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m18.565s + 0.417 96 4. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m18.669s + 0.521 142 5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m18.760s + 0.612 92 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m18.905s + 0.757 145 7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m18.944s + 0.796 98 8. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m19.851s + 1.703 92 9. Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari 1m20.316s + 2.168 51 10. Charles Pic Caterham 1m21.105s + 2.957 109 11. Luiz Razia Marussia 1m21.226s + 3.078 82 12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.435s + 5.287 49