Romain Grosjean admitted full race distance at Barcelona just what Lotus needed
While Boullier says team would finish on podium if race tomorrow
By James Galloway in Barcelona. Last Updated: February 21, 2013 9:05pm
Romain Grosjean believes the full race distance he completed in the Lotus E21 at Barcelona will provide a fillip to the team, as will the new car's performance in high-speed corners, which he declared a step forward over 2012.
The Enstone team had set the clear target of completing more mileage - and principally a race distance - ahead of Day Three of the test after Kimi Raikkonen's two days in the car were compromised by telemetry, and then gearbox, glitches.
That aim was realised with time to spare on Thursday as Grosjean not only completed more laps than any one driver - 119 - but across five stints and three of Pirelli's four dry tyre compounds racked up the 66-lap equivalent of a Spanish GP.
And after the delays of the first two days, Grosjean admitted: "It's good for the team that we could do a lot of laps today. That's what we really wanted and needed, so that's a good point.
"We completed a race distance in the afternoon and no issue on the car so a relief for us a little bit."
An additional encouragement for Lotus, however, was the E21's performance in Barcelona's faster corners, with Grosjean pleased that their latest version of the Coanda exhaust had improved the car's handling in such turns.
"High-speed feels better than last year to be honest," the 26-year-old revealed.
"When we swapped to the Coanda exhaust last year the car was not as easy to drive as the first one [exhaust] we had. But we brought it quite late and I think this year's car has been more designed around that and makes it quite enjoyable in those corners."
In becoming the first driver at Barcelona this year to complete a full grand prix distance with pit stops, Grosjean also got to fully experience the affected Pirelli's softer 2013 compounds were having on performance over long stints.
Although one of his stints lasted 24 laps, the Frenchman on the whole certainly found the experience an eye-opener and concurred with numerous fellow drivers in saying that there was only a small window of peak performance from each tyre.
"Tyres degrade a lot," he explained. "I think the first stint I came on the radio [on] lap two saying 'tyres are dead'. But there were 66 laps to do so I tried to do the best, try to adapt your driving style - which is not easy to be honest - but then I think the conditions are not representative to what we will get [in Melbourne].
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"But it's very difficult to what we had last year and we need to change quite a lot of things to make it working perfectly."
Although Grosjean was coy when asked how he thought the E21 staked up to the rest of the field - "to be honest I haven't seen much" - his team boss was more forthcoming.
Asked by Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz where Lotus would finish if the Spanish GP was held at Barcelona on Friday, he replied: "On the podium."
The Frenchman then added: "I can just answer your question based on today, the Spanish GP is in May and the track will be different then and everything can change by then. Just based on the information we saw today it is not bad."