Day three of the first of two pre-season tests at Barcelona ended with 2012 runner-up Fernando Alonso setting fastest time in the scarlet Ferrari F138. The Spaniard made the most of his final day in the cockpit before he hands over to team mate Felipe Massa for the final day tomorrow.
Alonso’s time of 1:21:875 as enough to place him ahead of rival Nico Hulkenberg in the erstwhile unimpressive Sauber, whose pace on the soft tyre rattled his rivals and confirmed the young German had lost none of the pace he showed at the last race in Brazil. Romain Grosjean continued to show the pace of the Lotus, although he remained somewhat under the radar throughout the day, while Nico Rosberg proved he is up for the challenge of racing against Lewis Hamilton by placing the Merc 4th, the same as the Briton managed yesterday.
The Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top six, the Venezuelan in the cockpit during the morning before handing over to his younger team mate after the lunch break. Williams and Caterham have been left searching for a solution after elements of their exhaust design were banned by the FIA on Tuesday evening.
Jenson Button was 7th fastest in the Mclaren, but the 2009 World Champion was not too disappointed with his day’s work, his quickest lap being set on the slowest tyre compound and masking the true pace of the MP4-28 which so flew in the hands of Sergio Perez yesterday. He was ahead of the returning Adrian Sutil who was behind the wheel of an F1 car for the first time since Brazil 2011 when he lapped the Force India VJM06 in a time of 1:22:877 and clocked up 78 laps for the day. His rival for the seat, Jules Bianchi, will make his bid to win the hearts of FI management when he drives tomorrow.
Mark Webber very nearly completed a race distance for Red Bull before a red flag ended the day’s running just short of the five o’ clock mark when Diego Van Der Garde broke down out on the circuit. The Dutchman was the slowest runner of the day, a full 0.5 seconds off the Marussia of Max Chilton who was trialling suspension changes throughout the day and consequently only managed 58 laps.
|8||Adrian SUTIL||Force India||1:22:877||78||Medium|
|9||Mark WEBBER||Red Bull||1:23:024||108||Medium|
|10||Jean Eric VERGNE||Toro Rosso||1:23:366||106||Medium|
|12||Giedo VAN DER GARDE||Caterham||1:26:177||93|
Rain is forecast for Friday, worrying news for both Lewis Hamilton (his 2nd day of driving for Mercedes) and Jules Bianchi, the Frenchman bidding to stake his claim for the 2nd Force India seat during the final day of running in Spain. Jenson Button and Mark Webber will return to action, alongside Felipe Massa who will take the wheel of the F138 for Ferrari.