Formula One: 2012 Mugello Test Recap

For the first time since the 2008 season, the drivers and teams of the Formula One World Championship ran in an in-season test session. In order to keep things fair, the test was run at the Mugello Circuit which is not on the F1 calendar. Surprisingly, a number of race drivers didn’t participate and left the work to the test and reserve drivers. Not surprisingly, it was the race drivers who set the pace on all three days of the test.

Day 1 (May 1)

The first day of testing at Mugello was essentially a write-off. The most laps run by any driver was 49 over the course of the day. That was because rain limited the useful track time teams had. The weather was so bad that the red flag was called for during the afternoon’s running.

The day’s fast time was set by Fernando Alonso, who drives for track owner Ferrari. His time came early in the day during the small portion of dry running. Gary Paffett and Michael Schumacher both ran only in the afternoon when the rain was heaviest causing them not to set times at speed.

  1. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:22.444
  2. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.648
  3. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:23.891
  4. Jerome D’Ambrosio – Lotus-Renault – 1:24.408
  5. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:24.100
  6. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:24.736
  7. Oliver Turvey – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:25.403
  8. Jules Bianchi – Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.475
  9. Rodolfo Gonzalez – Caterham-Renault – 1:27.197
  10. Charles Pic – Marussia-Cosworth – 1:27.359
  11. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Renault – 1:29.179
  12. Gary Paffett – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:50.898
  13. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes – No Time

Day 2 (May 2)

It was a rare tie atop the timesheets at the end of the second day of running. Grosjean set his time early in the day and was matched by Kobayashi in the final ten minutes of running.  The day saw the track completely dry which allowed for an increase in running. Four drivers ran at least 100 laps (Massa, Schumacher, Petrov and Senna) with the Red Bull boys running over 100 combined.

Interestingly, while most drivers at the test noted how much they loved driving at Mugello and how much fun they were having, Vitaly Petrov complained that the circuit was unsafe and F1 shouldn’t be there. Elsewhere, all the Red Bull drivers were quoted as saying they loved the track. Mark Webber even said on Twitter: “Did ten dry laps today around Mugello, which is the same as doing 1,000 laps around Abu Dhabi track in terms of satisfaction.” I don’t think Vitaly is going to win this one.

Despite the fact that we’re four races into the 2012 season, teams still suffered reliability problems. Paul di Resta was limited to 14 laps because of a hydraulic failure. A bad gearbox stopped Gary Paffett’s McLaren during the day’s running. And the Marussia shared by Glock and Pic saw limited running as a result of power steering glitches.

  1. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:21.603
  2. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:21.603
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:21.825
  4. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:21.997
  5. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:22.257
  6. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:22.422
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:22.588
  8. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes – 1:23.404
  9. Charles Pic – Marussia-Cosworth – 1:23.912
  10. Vitaly Petrov – Caterham-Renault – 1:24.312
  11. Gary Paffett – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.480
  12. Timo Glock – Marussia-Cosworth – 1:24.499
  13. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:24.749
  14. Bruno Senna – Williams-Renault – 1:24.842

Day 3 (May 3)

For the second straight day, it was the Lotus of Romain Grosjean who set the fastest time of the day. Kimi Raikkonen was originally supposed to run the final day of the test but after the rain on Day 1 of the test, Grosjean was given the assignment. Sebastian Vettel showed that the Red Bull’s pace from Bahrain wasn’t a one-off either with a second fastest time. Fernando Alonso’s third-fastest time wasn’t entirely without trouble. Shortly after setting his time, Alonso spun his car into the barrier and lost two hours of running time for repairs.

  1. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:21.035
  2. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:21.267
  3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:21.363
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:21.604
  5. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:22.229
  6. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:22.325
  7. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Cosworth – 1:22.497
  8. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:22.579
  9. Oliver Turvey – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:22.662
  10. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:23.002
  11. Heikki Kovalainen – Caterham-Renault – 1:23.169
  12. Timo Glock – Marussia-Cosworth – 1:23.466

The in-season and pre-season tests are consistent in one regard: Both consider Lotus, Sauber, Ferrari and Toro Rosso as the fastest teams. However, it’s fairly clear that race pace and testing pace are very different this season. While Lotus and Red Bull are rightly on top of the time sheets, Ferrari and Toro Rosso haven’t had the race pace to reflect their testing speed. I don’t expect to see the two Italian teams contending for podiums when the World Championship arrives in Spain.

Best Times of the Week

  1. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:21.035
  2. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:21.267
  3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:21.363
  4. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:21.603
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:21.604
  6. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:21.997
  7. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:22.229
  8. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:22.257
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:22.325
  10. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:22.422
  11. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Renault – 1:22.497
  12. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:22.579
  13. Oliver Turvey – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:22.662
  14. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:23.002
  15. Heikki Kovalainen – Caterham-Renault – 1:23.169
  16. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes – 1:23.404
  17. Timo Glock – Marussia-Cosworth – 1:23.466
  18. Charles Pic – Marussia-Cosworth – 1:23.982
  19. Jerome d’Ambrosio – Lotus-Renault – 1:24.048
  20. Vitaly Petrov – Caterham-Renault – 1:24.312
  21. Gary Paffett – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.480
  22. Bruno Senna – Williams-Renault – 1:24.842
  23. Jules Bianchi – Force India-Mercedes – 1:25.475
  24. Rodolfo Gonzalez – Caterham-Renault – 1:27.197
  25. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Renault – 1:29.179

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