Barcelona, February 21th, 2013 (F1plus). – Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was the fastest of the third day of Formula One testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, by setting the best time of 1:21.875 in the morning that nobody could beat in the afternoon session.
Alonso started the morning session testing tyre changes and then did several qualifying mocks with soft rubbers that keep improving and lowering his times progressively to become the only driver to get under the 1:22 mark throughout the day.
The Spaniard, who tomorrow will pass the steering wheel of the F138 to Felipe Massa, has completed his third day of testing at Montmeló running 97 laps and staying just 23 thousandths of the best time set yesterday by Mexican Sergio "Checo" Pérez with McLaren.
"The track was a lot colder than yesterday, especially in the morning. That made it more difficult to find the right level of grip."
"Tyre management will be crucial this season; they are softer and faster, but they also degrade a lot faster." said Alonso.
If most drivers have spent the morning session to achieve their best times in qualification trims with soft tyres, the afternoon session was chaired by long runs with intermediate hard compounds and race simulations. This has did not generate substantial changes in the timesheets.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean (Lotus) was the one with most laps by completing a total of 119 in the Catalunya track. He was followed by German Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Mark Webber (Red Bull), both with 108.
That said, it is important to highlight the reliability seen in the Williams FW35, the car that made more laps today. In the morning, Pastor Maldonado squeezed 79 laps and, after lunch, it was the turn for the Finn Valtteri Bottas to bring another 68 with zero issues to tell.
Perhaps the surprise of the third day, colder and more humid than that of Wednesday, has been he good times set by Nico Hulkenberg, who flew with his Sauber C32 in the morning to get the second fastest time (1:22.161).
A different story can be said about Jenson Button in his initial outing here at Barcelona. The McLaren driver has not lived up to the expectations created by his partner Sergio Perez, the fastest so far in Barcelona. Button lapped today almost a second slower than Perez did yesterday.
Today we also saw the return of Adrian Sutil at the wheels of Formula One car. The German was absent from ‘Great Circus’ in 2012, and now he is in the middle of a tough fight with Jules Bianchi for the remaining vacant seat at Force India, which only has a driver Paul di Resta as official confirmed.
"I wanted to show them that I am still quick and that was very important. I can sleep peacefully. I have done all I can to get back into F1. I don't know who is the favourite for the drive, it's up to Force India to decide." said Sutil.
The German was the eighth fastest (1:22.877) with the VJM06 in 78 laps of the Barcelona. Tomorrow it will be Bianchi’s turn.
Below the best times for the day:
|8||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:22.877||1.002||78|
|9||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:23.024||1.149||108|
|10||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:23.366||1.491||106|
|12||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||1:26.177||4.302||83|