Alonso quickest for Ferrari on day three of Barcelona testing
By Berthold Bouman
Fernando Alonso was fastest today at the Circuit de Catalunya, he lapped the circuit in 1m21.875, a time recorded on the soft Pirellis. Despite the low temperatures, Alonso was able to carry out all the tests in the F138, the focus was again on testing the 2013-spec Pirellis.
“Today we concentrated on a comparison of the compounds, starting with the soft and moving on to the hard in the afternoon. The track was colder than yesterday, especially in the morning, which made it harder to adapt the car and find the right grip level,” said Alonso.
And the Spaniard added, “Once again this year, the tyres will be one of the crucial aspects to manage: they are softer and quicker, but also less consistent and they degrade rapidly with every lap. We will have a lot of work to do to understand how best to balance the car, but that applies to all the teams.”
Second was Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber C32, he put a time of 1m22.160 on the clock after completing 92 laps. “It was a positive day. We got a lot of testing done with just minor problems,” said Hulkenberg. He too tested the soft Pirellis, and commented, “I ran the soft tyres in the morning here in Barcelona for the first time to get a feeling for those, which was interesting. The car is performing pretty well, and I‘m as happy as I can be.”
Romain Grosjean on third spot today – Photo: Lotus F1
Romain Grosjean was on duty for Lotus today, and he again confirmed the potential of the E21 by conquering third place. After completing 119 laps he said with a smile, “I think I’m ready for a sleep after so many laps in the car! It’s good to see reliability today to add to the pace we’ve already seen in the car. We’re still at an early stage of development so it’s really promising to see where we are.”
About the Pirellis he said, “The 2013 tyres certainly feel different from last year’s but already we’re starting to understand them. I hope it’s dry tomorrow so we can get some more laps under our belt.”
Fourth on today’s list is Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes, he too experienced problems due to the low temperatures, “We didn’t have a perfect morning and it was tough out there with the low temperatures. They were causing a lot of tyre graining, which made it difficult to do much useful testing. It was a few degrees warmer after the break and that gave a completely different picture. In general, I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved this week — I did a lot of mileage and the team has done a good job over the winter.”
Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas shared testing duties today, Maldonado was fifth and Bottas sixth, the difference between the pair was just 0.151s. Bottas again showed he is very competitive and the Finn said, “We started the afternoon with some shorter runs but we still haven’t seen the full potential of the FW35. I have been able to improve some things in my driving since yesterday, but there are still things I can work on compared to Pastor.”
Not much to write home about for McLaren and Jenson Button, yesterday Perez set the fastest time, today Button was seventh, almost a second off the pace. After the lunch break McLaren decided ‘to carry out some larger mechanical changes’, which meant Button had to wait until 15:00hrs local time before he could resume testing.
Adrian Sutil finally back in a F1 car again – Photo: Force India
Adrian Sutil made his return to Formula One today and after 108 laps in the Force India VJM06 landed eighth place, not bad considering he hasn’t driven a Formula One car for almost 18 months now. A happy Sutil said, “I found that I was able to get back up to speed quickly and set some good times before lunch. In the afternoon we did some long runs and also introduced the hard compound tyre, which feels quite different to the soft and mediums.”
Sutil had never tried the new Pirellis and said, “We started off by doing some aero work this morning when the track was quite cold and green. Later on we moved to some performance work and tyre testing, and feeling all the different Pirelli compounds was something quite new for me.”
It was Mark Webber’s turn to drive the Red Bull RB9, he too put in a lot of laps, this time without any reliability problems. “We had a pretty good run today, we’re learning plenty, so a positive outing for us,” said the Australian. “Overall the car ran smoothly and once again we amassed a huge amount of data for the guys back at the factory to go through.”
Asked who has the fastest car during pre-season testing he said, “As usual at tests, the question of the pecking order comes up all the time but, honestly, I have no idea.” He thinks the new tyres make it difficult to make any predictions, “There are a few quick cars out there, but in winter testing it’s so hard to say if anyone’s better than anyone else, especially with the tyres going off the way they are — you’re losing four or five seconds over the course of a stint — so figuring out who’s doing what is pretty difficult.”
Behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso STR8 was Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman took tenth place, while Max Chilton took 11th spot for Marussia.
KERS problems for Caterham today – Photo: Caterham F1
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was twelfth and last today, after completing 93 laps in the Caterham. “We had a technical issue in the afternoon which meant we were running without KERS for the whole session after lunch but despite that we were still able to try a number of different set-ups that give us more to work on tomorrow and several options to work through at the next test.”
Rain has been forecasted for tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya, and although teams would rather like to test in dry conditions, the rain could also provide valuable information about how all new Formula One cars perform in wet conditions.
Barcelona testing Day 3 – February 21
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.875 97 2. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m22.160 + 0.285 91 3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m22.188 + 0.313 119 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.611 + 0.736 108 5. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.675 + 0.800 79 6. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.826 + 0.951 68 7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m22.840 + 0.965 71 8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m22.877 + 1.002 78 9. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m23.024 + 1.149 108 10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.366 + 1.491 106 11. Max Chilton Marussia 1m25.690 + 3.815 58 12. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m26.177 + 4.302 93