Day two of pre-season was only slightly more useful than day one in terms of getting any idea of a pecking order ahead of the new season.
One thing we can be fairly sure of is that Lotus are looking good. Romain Grosjean followed up his strong pace from Tuesday with a time much quicker than anyone else today. While it doesn’t give much of an indication of how quick they will be when the teams arrive in Melbourne, they look likely to be there or thereabouts at the start of the season.
Another team that looks in good shape is Force India. For the second day in a row the Silverstone-based outfit set more laps than anyone else without incident and they look to have a reasonable package underneath them, which should give them confidence as they look to reclaim sixth place in the constructors’ championship from Sauber.
There’s no way of knowing which of the top three teams is looking strongest at the moment. Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari have all made positive starts to their testing campaigns, with few problems (Jenson Button’s fuel pump failure aside) to report at the moment. It certainly appears that any repeat of Ferrari’s situation in pre-season testing last year is off the cards, with none of the top teams clearly struggling at this point in time.
It was a different story for Lewis Hamilton on his first outing for Mercedes after he suffered a brake failure at the end of the back straight, resulting in a brush with the tyre wall from which he was always coming to come off second best. It has been a difficult test for the Silver Arrows so far, with Hamilton’s crash coming off the back of Nico Rosberg’s electrical problem yesterday. As a result, Mercedes have been restricted to just 26 laps in two days. As a comparison, Force India have managed 203.
Tomorrow sees world champion Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on track for the first time this week, whilst rookies Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas will also get their first taste of pre-season action.
1) Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Renault – 1:18.218 (95 laps)
2) Paul di Resta (GB) Force India-Mercedes – 1:19.003 (95 laps)
3) Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:19.134 (83 laps)
4) Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault – 1:19.338 (101 laps)
5) Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Sauber-Ferrari – 1:19.502 (99 laps)
6) Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes – 1:19.519 (15 laps)
7) Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren-Mercedes – 1:19.572 (81 laps)
8) Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari – 1:19.914 (78 laps)
9) Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Renault – 1:20.623 (71 laps)
10) James Rossiter (GB) Force India-Mercedes – 1:21.273 (19 laps)
11) Giedo van der Garde (Ned) Caterham-Renault – 1:21.311 (88 laps)
12) Luiz Razia (Bra) Marussia-Cosworth – 1:23.537 (31 laps)