Feb.10 (PVM) The topsy turvy nature of Formula 1 pre-season testing became evident on the final day at Jerez, where Fernando Alonso ended the week top of the timing screens and signalling that the Ferrari F2012 is not as bad as it seemed during the first three days at the venue in southern Spain.
Ironically Alonso found pace in the new car on the day after the team’s technical director, Pat Fry, stated, “I’m not happy with where we are at the moment. I think there is a lot of room for us to improve from where we are.”
That improvement came swiftly as Alonso finished the day with a best time of 1 minute 18.877 seconds. Whether the team found some extra performance or the result was that of a low fuel run we probably will never know.
On the downside, a hydraulic problem curtailed the team’s programme severely, the Spaniard could only manage 39 laps in total, losing half a day of valuable track time as the reds struggled with the problem.
Notably, Alonso’s best time was almost half a second down on Romain Grosjean’s best lap, set by a new car – the Lotus E20 – 24 hours earlier.
Nevertheless the news will no doubt be a relief , albeit temporary, for the legions of Ferrari fans and for the Maranello squad themselves who are always fair game for the Italian media.
Again showing strong pace was the Jean Eric Vergne and Toro Rosso STR7 combo, ending the day second best, and 0.720 seconds off Alonso’s best.
Next up was the Red Bull ‘senior’ team with world champion Vettel on duty for a second day. The team were plagued by electrical gremlins which rendered their morning almost useless. When Vettel finally got going he clocked 50 laps and the third best time in a flurry of hot laps towards the end of the day.
Up next was Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren MP4-27 with the fourth best time and 86 laps racked up – a mere 0.044 seconds separating Vergne, Vettel and Hamilton.
After establishing his speed a day earlier, Grosjean had a more subdued second day in the cockpit of the E20. He managed 95 laps and the fifth best time.
Within a second of Alonso’s best was Kamui Kobayashi who ended the day sixth quickest after 76 laps around Jerez.
Luckless Nico Hulkenberg, who had no running in the Force India the previous day thanks to reserve driver Jules Bianchi clipping the wall in the morning, rendering the VJM05 immobile until new parts arrived, did 90 laps on his way to setting the seventh best time.
Bruno Senna in the Williams FW34 was eighth on the final timing sheets, ahead Jarno Trulli who was making his debut in the Caterham CT01 – the veteran Italian slowest of all on the day.
Mercedes GP, who had topped the timing screens on the second and third day with their 2011 MGP-W02, opted to skip the final day as did HRT who packed up after day two. Marussia were not present for the first test of the season at all.
The second of three pre-season tests starts on 21 February at Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.
Jerez Testing Day 4 Results – Friday, 10 February 2012