Barcelona Practice 1: Alonso heads Ferrari 1-2 on home soil

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F138

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F138

Fernando Alonso got the opening weekend of the European stanza of the 2013 Formula 1 world championship off to the best possible start as he ended the 90 minutes session top of the timing sheets on home soil which is sure to provide a boost to last minute ticket sales for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The session started in damp and slippery conditions due to rainfall in the morning over the area, but as the session progressed the track dried up and a flurry of activity ensued as teams were keen to try out their latest updates in conditions which would enable to evaluate the new bits bolted on to their cars.

Alonso who has only won his home race on one occasion, back in 2006 when driving for Renault, powered around the Circuit de Catalunya in 1:25.252 which was 0.203 seconds up on Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. The reds looking strong early on, as next best was almost half a second off Massa’s pace.

Jean-Eric Vergne third fastest

Jean-Eric Vergne third fastest

And that next best was another Ferrari powered car as Toro Rosso driver Jean Eric Vergne stunned the pitlane with the third best time.

Romain Grosjean was best of the ‘rest’ in fourth at the wheel the Latest spec Lotus E21, ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil who was fifth and best of the Mercedes powered brigade.

Lewis Hamilton ended the session sixth on the timing screens in the Mercedes, with Valterri Bottas seventh in the Williams and fellow Finn  Kimi Raikkonen eighth in the Lotus.

Nico Rosberg was ninth in the Mercedes, with Paul di Resta rounding out the top ten.

Clearly keeping their powder dry in the first session were the red Bull duo of Senbastian Vettel and Mark Webber

Romain Grosjean was fourth

Romain Grosjean was fourth

Ominously neither McLaren was in the top ten despite a much publicised upgrade package for Barcelona. Sergio Perez was 13th, while Jenson Button did not set a time as according to the team’s official new Twitter which announced quite nonchalantly: “So, Checo’s best time of the morning was a 1m27.135s – 13th. Jenson, who was focusing on evaluative runs, didn’t set a laptime.”

How meaningful was the wet morning in Spain? Hard to tell really although it would be fair to say that Ferrari are looking good, but Red Bull are holding fire and until they decide to unleash the latest edition of the RB9 it is impossible to make comparisons.

This compounded by the fact that last time F1 was in Barcelona, during testing in early march, times were in the four seconds faster…

Spanish Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 10 May 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.252 20
2 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.455 0.203 20
3 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:25.667 0.415 25
4 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.042 0.790 21
5 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.212 0.960 24
6 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.374 1.122 19
7 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:26.456 1.204 20
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:26.614 1.362 21
9 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.621 1.369 21
10 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:26.755 1.503 16
11 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:26.940 1.688 26
12 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.061 1.809 24
13 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.135 1.883 6
14 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.250 1.998 26
15 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:27.576 2.324 24
16 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:28.373 3.121 14
17 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:28.600 3.348 19
18 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.887 3.635 14
19 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:29.457 4.205 11
20 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:29.473 4.221 21
21 23 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1:30.314 5.062 13
22 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes No time 6