Romain Grosjean finished this week's Mugello test at the top of the timesheets after a promising couple of days at the wheel of the Lotus E20.
Grosjean tied for the fastest time with Kamui Kobayashi on Wednesday but went half a second quicker on Thursday with a 1:21.035. Grosjean warned specifically against reading too much into the times earlier in the week, but his solid improvements as Lotus has tinkered with various suspension and floor options over the last two days bodes well for the team.
Sebastian Vettel was Grosjean's closest competitor, 0.232s off, but did not improve on his time in the afternoon. Fernando Alonso also failed to improve on his morning time, but Ferrari were more interested in getting useful data from the new updates on the F2012.
The Italian team debuted the first stage of its substantial update package for the Spanish Grand Prix, including a revised rear end with a more conventional exhaust layout. The new package showed potential on its second proper run with a 1:21.363, but just a few laps later Alonso ran wide and dislodged the Ferrari's new front wing. The team spent two hours repairing the front-left corner of the car, but by the end of the day Alonso had completed a respectable 98 laps in total.
Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest ahead of Sauber's Sergio Perez after both racked up over 100 laps testing new parts on their respective cars. Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest after taking over from Paul di Resta in the Force India after lunch. Hulkenberg's best time, a 1:22.325, was 0.677s faster than his team-mate and he also completed more laps with 55 to di Resta's 34 from the morning. The team focused on performance and aero work during the day after problems with the car's hydraulics severely limited its programme on Wednesday.
Williams suffered reliability issues in the morning after an electrical problem restricted Pastor Maldonado to just four laps before lunch. The issue was solved by the afternoon and the FW34 added a further 59 laps to its tally as Maldonado clocked the seventh quickest time.
There were no reliability problems at Mercedes as Nico Rosberg clocked up an impressive 129 laps, following on from Michael Schumacher's 144 on Wednesday. He finished eighth fastest after setting his best time on his final run to just stay ahead of Oliver Turvey, who also set his fastest lap late in the day. The McLaren test driver racked up 99 laps in total as his team continued with its low-key test programme, which, over the course of the week, has featured no major upgrades and neither of the race drivers.
Heikki Kovalainen completed the most laps of all with 139 in the revised Caterham by the end of the day. His best time was a 1:23.169, which was just under three tenths faster than Timo Glock in the Marussia.
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus E20||1:21.035||66|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull RB8||1:21.267||106|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F2012||1:21.363||98|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso STR7||1:22.143||117|
|5.||Sergio Perez||Sauber C31||1:22.229||118|
|6.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India VJM05||1:22.325||55|
|7.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams FW34||1:22.497||63|
|8.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W03||1:22.579||129|
|9.||Oliver Turvey||McLaren MP4-27||1:22.662||99|
|10.||Paul di Resta||Force India VJM05||1:23.002||34|
|11.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham CT01||1:23.169||139|
|12.||Timo Glock||Marussia MR01||1:23.466||110|