Fernando Alonso has finished day three of the second week of pre-season testing on top of the timesheets. The Spaniard, driving on home ground, completed 97 laps of Catalunya and this saw him secure the fastest time of the day – three-tenths quicker than Nico Hulkenberg. Alonso has piloted the Ferrari for the first three days having missed the Jerez round of testing while undergoing rigurous testing to slap the double world champion into shape for the championship challenge. Ferrari retaining their seemingly strong pace will put the odds of a triple world championship for Fernando in his favour. Back to the present and Felipe Massa will take the Ferrari out for some track time, having completed three full days in Jerez.
Nico Hulkenberg’s best lap of 1:22.160 put him three-tenths slower than Alonso but marginally faster than Lotus’ Romain Grosjean who put in a 1:22.188 after 119 laps, the most of anyone. Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes put him fourth overall, five-tenths behind Grosjean’s E21. He, again, was marginally faster than Pastor Maldonado who set a fastest time of 1:22.675 following 79 laps of Catalunya.
Sixth overall was Valterri Bottas who took the afternoon session in the FW35 to go 0.2 seconds slower than his Venezuelan team-mate. Jenson Button, who was in the McLaren for the first time since Catalunya, was seventh overall today despite his team-mate, Perez, setting the fastest time of Wednesday’s test. A slow start in the morning saw the Briton eventually completing 79 laps, good enough for a 1:22.840.
Adrian Sutil was in a live F1 car for the first time since losing his seat in 2011. The German who was tried for GBH charges last February, was given today to show what he could do as Force India have also scheduled Jules Bianchi in the car for Friday, with it now looking definite that one of the two drivers will partner Paul di Resta for 2013. Sutil’s 78 laps finished with a best lap time of 1:22.877 as he worked on fine tuning the VJM06 while also attempting to impress the team.
Mark Webber wasn’t too impressing while running down in 9th. The Aussie was in the car for the first time this week and was in the middle of an evening race simulation when a red flag was thrown, bringing his day to a premature end with 108 laps on the clock. Right behind Webber is Jean-Eric Vergne whose 1:23.366 lap time after 106 laps brought him to 10th on the time sheets, a drop from Toro Rosso’s consistent 6th-8th placing in testing.
Bringing up the back is Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde. Rookie Chilton ran 57 laps in comparison to van der Garde’s 93, but the Briton still beat the Dutchman by half a second. Van der Garde’s day ground to a halt – as did everyone else’s – when his Caterham stopped abruptly on track in the fading light in Spain.
Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Valterri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado, Jean-Eric Vergne, Charles Pic and Luiz Razia will pilot their respective cars tomorrow as the second week of testing draws to a close.