For the second day in a row, the big story of the final round of pre-season Formula 1 testing developed off of the track in Barcelona.
Marussia F1 Team has announced that Jules Bianchi will be replacing Luiz Razia as team mate to Max Chilton. The team had been at odds with Razia for seemingly the entire brief time that the Brazilian had been with the team, and as a result the team went in another direction. Bianchi will occupy the driver’s seat of the team’s MR02 for the final two days of testing prior to the beginning of the regular F1 season.
While those shenanigans were taking place, Romain Grosjean was busy leaping from last on day 1 to first on day two as he ran a 1:22.716 on soft tires to become the first driver to find the top of the time sheets two times during testing. The Frenchman’s first number one finish came in day two at Jerez.
Grosjean put in 88 laps of work in all during what was his final day in the cockpit prior to the first practice at the Australian Grand Prix. His Lotus F1 Team counterpart, 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, will finish out the testing for Lotus.
Second fastest of the day was Jenson Button of McLaren. Button held the top spot at the lunch break, but his 1:23.181 wasn’t enough to keep that position by the end of the day. All told the Brit logged 72 laps on the day.
Williams F1 had yet another strong showing as Pastor Maldonado made sure they wound up in third. Maldonado ran a 1:23.628 and completed 75 laps at Circuit de Catalunya.
Sebastian Vettel snagged the fourth spot for Red Bull Racing with a 1:23.743 on 65 laps of work, while Nico Hulkenberg put Swiss based Sauber F1 Team in fifth with 79 laps and a best time only .001 seconds behind the three-time World Champion.
Lotus has been in the top four in lap times for all but two days of testing, which bodes well for the Enstone, UK based team. The continued success of teams like Williams and Sauber during testing indicates that it could be a highly competitive year from top to bottom, at least early on in the season while teams are still shaking down their cars.
Formula 1 testing will continue tomorrow from the site of the Spanish Grand Prix.
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