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Lotus finish quickest at Mugello, while Heikki Kovalainen completes Caterham programme

18:11 03 May 2012

Heikki Kovalainen prepares to head out for Caterham during the final day of testing at Mugello. Photo: Andrew Ferraro

Heikki Kovalainen prepares to head out for Caterham during the final day of testing at Mugello. Photo: Andrew Ferraro

LAT Photographic

Once again Romain Grosjean topped the time sheets for Lotus as the first mid-season test for four years came to an end at Mugello.

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Grosjean’s afternoon tour was the quickest of the three-day test and put Grosjean a couple of tenths of a second ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.

“Mugello puts high demands on the driver so it’s been a very good experience for me – and quite a workout!” said Grosjean. “We were conducting a specific programme of evaluating components, so to be quick relative to our opposition even when we were not looking specifically to try to top the times is satisfying.

“I’m happy at the progress we’ve made here in Italy and looking forward to seeing how well this translates into lap time when we get to Barcelona.”

Heikki Kovalainen took the Caterham CT01 through its paces on the final day at Mugello, topping the lap chart with 139 trips as the Hingham constructor worked through a number of new parts including bodywork, floor, exhausts and brakes.

“We tried a variety of new parts and it felt like we may have found a couple of things that we can take to the next race,” said the Finn, with the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona on May 13.

“You can never tell just how much of an improvement something has been until you go through all the data, but the fact we’ve brought new parts that feel like a step forward is good. It shows we’re pushing as hard as we can and that’s what we need to do to achieve the goals this year.”

Meanwhile, Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov believes the high speed Mugello circuit is not safe enough for modern day Formula One cars.

“Some of the drivers don’t think that it is good testing here and I have to agree it is a very dangerous track, that has limited run off areas,” the Russian told Auto Bild.

“The walls are very close to the track and if you miss the apex of one of the fast chicanes you will have a big crash. During the first two sectors, we are in fifth or sixth gear nearly all the time.

“The track is too narrow for my taste. Even a small problem with the car such as a decrease in car pressure will lead to a major accident.”

Not that Red Bull’s Australian driver Mark Webber shared Petrov’s views. He tweeted on Tuesday: “Did 10 dry laps today around Mugello, which is the same as doing 1000 laps around Abu Dhabi track in terms of satisfaction. #realtracks. #fast.”

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