Taking over from day one pacesetter Button, the morning kicked off with a continuation of yesterday's aero calibration work, carried out across a number of shorter runs. Attention then turned towards acclimatising Perez to the car, running through a prescribed programme of mechanical and aerodynamic adjustments with MP4-28 to give him a greater understanding of the inherent feel of the car and the way it reacts to set-up changes.
Felipe Massa was next up, his positive comments about the new Ferrari
F138 notwithstanding. The Brazilian was the final driver to duck under 1min 20secs for the day, but remained 1.7secs off Grosjean's benchmark as the Scuderia preferred to concentrate on the items on its job sheet. While the afternoon was given over to aerodynamic testing and long runs, with Massa completing a total of 78 laps, he also accumulated a large amount of data relating to various exhaust configurations tried during the morning, which will now be analysed by the engineers.
“Today, we concentrated 100 per cent on the aerodynamic side and on the exhausts - in the morning, I didn't even do a flying lap because we used the time available to do constant speed runs and analyse various aerodynamic solutions,” Massa revealed, “All the changes to the car took longer than planned but, in the afternoon, I managed to do three long runs which were very important in order to understand which direction we need to follow in the coming days.”
The lone 2012-spec car in the field seemed destined to spend most of the day at the foot of the times, until Williams
and Pastor Maldonado
took to the track in earnest. The Venezuelan had just seven laps under his belt as the mid-point approached, but ended the day with ten times that number as he continued to evaluate parts that will appear on the team's new FW35 when it is launched in Barcelona.
“We had a clutch installation problem this morning, which was a bit disappointing considering it was the same as we had been running last season,” technical director Mike Coughlan admitted, “We quickly remedied, this but it lost us time during our aero evaluations this morning, and we will look to recover this time over the next two days.
“This afternoon, the focus was back on tyre work and we also made some subtle set-up changes which has given us a good direction for the new car.”
Maldonado ended the day half a second clear of Rossiter, who completed 19 laps after taking over from di Resta and managed a best lap of 1min 21.273secs on his first F1 appearance since running with Honda back in 2008.
"It felt great to be back in an F1 car and I was impressed with the performance straight away,” Rossiter confirmed, “It's only the second day of running, yet the car already feels quite nicely balanced with a lot of potential. Having already done work on the team's simulator, it's good to get a feel for the real car and get acclimatised today so that I can really make the most of my running tomorrow morning."
The final two spots in the order were filled by GP2 graduates Giedo van der Garde and Luiz Razia, the latter getting his first run-out just and hour or so after being confirmed as Max Chilton's team-mate at Marussia. The Briton had been expected behind the wheel, but the Banbury-based team took the opportunity to get its latest recruit behind the wheel. The early part of the morning was given over to acclimatisation, but it wasn't long before Razia was making good progress and the team were able to start pushing through the list of test items. It was ironic, therefore, that Razia's day was cut short when the MR02 ground to a halt opposite the pits, and was denied a return to the circuit when the red flags reappeared in the closing stages.
“It is not the first time I have worked with the team, of course, but there has been a lot to take in and I need to get up to speed very quickly,” the Brazilian pointed out, “I'm quite pleased with the way things have gone for me, so it is a shame that we were unable to run this afternoon. We had an engine problem, but took that opportunity to do our KERS checks and, overall, I think we have good reason to be positive as the guys are obviously pushing extremely hard."