Former team owner-turned-TV presenter, Eddie Jordan, tweeted earlier this week that he felt Ferrari were deceptively quick. The implication is that Ferrari may have made significant ground over the winter in improving their pace. While testing is a game of deception and differing strategies, it could bode well for Fernando Alonso as he topped the time sheets in Barcelona on day 3 of this week’s testing.
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:21.875, 97 laps (S)
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, 1:22.160, 91 laps (S)
3. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:22.188, 119 laps (S)
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:22.627, 108 laps (M)
5. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.675, 79 laps
6. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.826, 68 laps
7. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:22.840, 71 laps (H)
8. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:22.877, 78 laps
9. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.024, 108 laps (M)
10. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.366, 106 laps (M)
11. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:25.690; 58 laps
12. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:26.177, 93 laps
Alonso focused on shorter runs ont eh soft compound placing him above his rivals while Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg completed testing in 2nd followed by Lotus F1’s Romain Grosjean. The test also saw the return of Adrian Sutil behind the wheel of the Force India finishing 8th.
Ferrari was primarily focused on the tire compounds today and we discussed this issue in our latest podcast about how desperate the teams will be to get on top of the tire performance characteristics to give them an edge at the beginning of the season. 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. We will have a lot of work to do to understand how best to balance the car, but that applies to all the teams.”
McLaren’s Sergio Perez was quite surprised by the level of degradation the new Pirellis exhibited on day 2 and the team were only 7th during day 3’s practice session.