Alonso is fastest on Day 3 in Valencia
Fernando Alonso continued his impressive Ferrari debut, setting the fastest time of the week during the morning session at Valencia.
Despite being only 29 laps into his Ferrari career, and Wednesday’s running is first opportunity to drive the new F10, Alonso quickly proved that he is going to be a force this season.
Over 25,000 fans arrived at the Valencia circuit on Wednesday morning, eager to see the Spaniard in action upon his Ferrari debut. But added to the Spaniard’s outing an interesting tussle between Alonso, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher was also on the cards.
Wednesday’s morning session began with seven-time World Champion Schumacher, who posted a best time of 1:12.947, completing the first lap time of the morning, a 1:14.889. Aside from testing Merc’s W01 today, the German is also trying out a black carbon prototype Schuberth helmet.
Schumacher was soon overhauled by Pedro de la Rosa as the Sauber driver went quickest with a 1:12.293. However, that’s about all he did as moments later he brought out the first red flag of the day as his C29 came to a stop on the run in to Turn 4.
The session was stopped for 13 minutes while the marshals removed de la Rosa’s car, returning it to the Sauber pits.
According to Autosport, Sauber’s tech man Willy Rampf is reporting that it was a coming together between de la Rosa and Nick Hulkenberg that caused the problem and that de la Rosa’s car is damaged.
With the track temperature rising to 18’C, Fernando Alonso ventured out to begin his Ferrari career. The Spaniard clocked a 1:16 on his first attempt and continued to shave that down until he managed to take the P1 slot with a 1:11.905, relegating de la Rosa to second.
Continuing to put in the laps, Alonso improved to a 1:11.599, the fastest of the week, 0.123s up on the previous best, which was set by his team-mate Felipe Massa on Tuesday.
Almost an hour after his coming together with Hulkenberg, de la Rosa returned to the track and it wasn’t long before he picked up where he left off, posting a 1:12.094 to hold onto second place.
Schumacher moved up to third place with a 1:12.438, narrowly beating the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari by just over a tenth while Button took fifth place.
Almost two hours into testing and with just three laps under his belt, the new McLaren driver and reigning F1 World Champ finally ventured out of his team’s garage to do some serious running.
The team explained via Twitter that “it’s his first run, so we’re getting him comfortable and running a slightly longer checklist than we had with Gary and Lewis.”
A steady improvement from over the next 11 laps saw him head off to lunch with a 1:13.498 to his name.
At the back of the timesheets, Williams rookie Nico Hulkerberg, who managed to avoid damaging his car during his minor collision with de la Rosa, and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov had a battle of their own.
First and second in last year’s GP2 series, the duo swapped positions as they fought for supremacy but at the mid-day break it was Petrov who was in front.
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:11.470, 127 Laps
2. Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:12.094, 80 Laps
3. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:12.438, 82 Laps
4. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:12.576, 97 Laps
5. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:12.951, 82 Laps
6. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:13.097, 75 Laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:13.669, 126 Laps