Alonso fastest on Day 3 in Barcelona

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F138

Fernando Alonso topped the timesheets in his Ferrari F138 in an industrious day F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona overnight.

Alonso’s time of 1:21.875 was set on soft tyres in the morning session. Most teams concentrated on race simulations in the afternoon and this was the first day of testing in Barcelona that saw no overall improvement in times after the informal lunch break.

Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber, 1:22.160) will be pleased with his second placing on the lap charts, he was ahead of a busy Romain Grosjean (Lotus, 1:22.188).

After his day was done Alonso said: “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.

We tried various aerodynamic configurations and for the first time, we made some set-up changes to get a good understanding of tyre behaviour and degradation. With every change we made, the car reacted as I expected and it was useful to try out the different settings, especially to understand which direction we need to go in next week, when there will be a greater emphasis on performance.

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.”

Meanwhile, the best Mark Webber (Red Bull, 1:23.024) could manage was ninth quickest, over 1.1 seconds from Alonso’s best. But the popular Aussie was still happy with his 108 laps completed.

“We had a pretty good run today, we’re learning plenty, so a positive outing for us,” said Mark. “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. We’d like to get a bit more mileage tomorrow in the dry, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, it looks like it will be wet.”

Webber reinforced Alonso’s earlier comments regarding tyre degradation and said it’s still too early to tell who will be the team to beat in 2013.

“As usual at tests, the question of the pecking order comes up all the time but, honestly, I have no idea,” Webber said. “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. All we can do is keep pushing, keep developing and keep our eyes fixed on the first race.”

2013 F1 pre-season testing – Barcelona I (Day 3)

  1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari – 1:21.875 (97 laps)
  2. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber – 1:22.160 +0.285 (91 laps)
  3. Romain Grosjean Lotus – 1:22.188 +0.313 (119 laps)
  4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes – 1:22.611 +0.736 (108 laps)
  5. Pastor Maldonado Williams – 1:22.675 +0.800 (79 laps)
  6. Valtteri Bottas Williams – 1:22.826 +0.951 (68 laps)
  7. Jenson Button McLaren – 1:22.840 +0.965 (71 laps)
  8. Adrian Sutil Force India – 1:22.877 +1.002 (78 laps)
  9. Mark Webber Red Bull – 1:23.024 +1.149 (108 laps)
  10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso – 1:23.366 +1.491 (106 laps)
  11. Max Chilton Marussia – 1:25.690 +3.815 (58 laps)
  12. Giedo van der Garde Caterham – 1:26.177 +4.302 (93 laps)

All timing unofficial