Over the course of 106 laps at WeatherTech Raceway, Grosjean’s Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda ran five sets of tires, with the team having the rookie practice going fast while fuel saving, saving fuel when running at safety car speed, and making pitstops.
Grosjean, for whom this was only the second time testing an IndyCar following his initial foray at Barber Motorsports Park last week, ended the day third fastest of the eight drivers participating at WTR Laguna Seca.
“Pato O’Ward was fastest, and then my teammate Ed Jones pipped me by a couple of hundredths at the end, but there’s more speed in there,” Grosjean told Motorsport.com. “It’s only testing and there were only seven other cars here. So it’s great that we’re in the game, but I’m not reading too much into it.
“The important thing is that we definitely learned a lot and I’m definitely getting better. I think we’ve made some progress. I’m starting to understand the car better.
“If I’m honest, it’s very different from Formula 1, the way you drive it. But I’m getting up to speed and feeling more confident in it, more comfortable.
“We made a fair amount of setup changes and I felt how they work, so we’re getting there. I feel like I’m learning what the car needs to go fast and how I need to drive it.”
Grosjean heaped praise on the facility itself, having wanted to try this classic 2.238-mile track in Monterey, CA. ever since encountering it in a video game a dozen years ago. He also said the knowledge he had gained from virtual racing had helped him learn the course to a surprising degree.
“First of all, driving Laguna Seca in an IndyCar is absolutely outstanding,” he said. “It’s one of the tracks I really wanted to drive in my life and so it was going to be a good day, anyway.
“But some of the lines I had used in the game, I was a bit skeptical about, to be honest – and actually they turned out to be right! Obviously, video games are still only games and they’re never going to be as good as a professional simulator, but they do a good job, and for learning a track they’re quite useful.
“I really liked going uphill, Turns 5 and 6, and then the next-to-last corner, downhill, Turn 10. The Corkscrew is of course interesting, too, but it’s a lower-speed corner and it’s more a survival moment going through there.”
Grosjean said that the nature of Laguna Seca meant that there was no real way to protect his burnt but recovering left hand by avoiding curbs, as he had during his initial test at Barber Motorsports Park.
“When you go through the Corkscrew, the amount of curb you use means it’s always going to be a bit of a shaker!” he said. “The hand is… not pretty. I had a blister from Barber that completely went today. I had to put more plasters on it.
“So when I remove my glove it’s not great, but we have month-and-a-half until Race 1 and every day is a good step. The area that is weak is going to get stronger and we should be OK.”