Romain Grosjean closes out first Barcelona test fastest

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Romain Grosjean has made the most of his one and only day behind the wheel of the Lotus E23 Hybrid in Barcelona this week by finishing as the fastest driver.

The Frenchman posted a fastest lap time of 1:24.087 on the super-soft tire to finish ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, completing a hat-trick of P1 finishes for Lotus in Barcelona.

Six red flag periods created a truncated day of running, with the big story being Fernando Alonso’s crash at the end of the morning session.

The Spaniard was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks, where a CT scan confirmed that he was not severely injured following an off at turn three.

Stoppages for Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz Jr., Felipe Nasr and Nico Hulkenberg meant that their teams had to contend with minor problems and interruptions in their testing programme, whilst Ferrari and McLaren also had trouble with their cars, limiting their running.

Following Alonso’s accident, McLaren opted to end its running in Barcelona and scrap the plans to run Jenson Button in the afternoon. A third problem in four days with the Honda engine meant that the team was limited to just 20 laps in total on Sunday.

Williams opted to focus on its long-run pace on Sunday as Bottas propped up the timesheets, but made a late charge to finish fifth. By getting 128 laps under his belt, the Finn managed to gain plenty of data ahead of the final test in Barcelona next week.

With just four days remaining in pre-season testing after today, many of the teams opted to push their cars a little bit harder in search of the optimum lap time. Seven drivers occupied top spot across the course of the day, but it was Grosjean who ultimately won out with a lap time that was two-tenths of a second faster than Nico Rosberg’s. However, the German did post his P2 lap on the medium tire, whilst Grosjean was on super-softs.

After Pastor Maldonado finished fastest on Thursday and Saturday in Barcelona, Grosjean’s result capped off a good week for Lotus. The British team will be hoping to put the misery of 2014 in the past and head to the first race of the season in Australia with renewed vigor and pace.

The teams will begin the final four-day test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next Thursday, and most are expected to bring a raft of upgrades that could help to define the pecking order for the new year.