F1

Alonso comes back quick at Jerez with Renault

Alonso comes back quick at Jerez with Renault

Formula One testing continued Tuesday at Jerez, Spain, with double world champion Fernando Alonso, Australian journeyman Mark Webber, Toyota newcomer Timo Glock, and veteran Roman Giancarlo Fisichella among those making test ...

Formula One testing continued Tuesday at Jerez, Spain, with double world champion Fernando Alonso, Australian journeyman Mark Webber, Toyota newcomer Timo Glock, and veteran Roman Giancarlo Fisichella among those making test debuts.

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Weather in Southern Spain eased into clear and partially cloudy, presenting a welcome change from Monday, when rain affected the morning session. The 4.423-kilometer (2.748-mile) track was merely damp Tuesday morning rather than fully wet as on Monday.

Alonso's return to Renault after a turbulent and short-lived association with McLaren found the Spaniard pleased with changes he found in the team's approach. His decision to leave the team after six seasons came when Renault bosses were not sure if the French company would carry on with F1.

Last year's co-runner-up with then McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton to World Driving Champion Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, Alonso topped the unofficial time sheets Tuesday with a 1-minute, 19.503-second lap set during 70 laps in a traction control-free R27-06. Raikkonen, 1:19.706, was third-quickest in Ferrari's new car, the F2008, behind McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa (1:19.650) in the new MP4-23.

"I had to adapt at first to the car and get used to driving the car without traction control," Alonso said. "But I am convinced that soon I will be used to this and will not remember what it was like to drive with traction control."

Alonso told BBC Sports he thought series drivers would adapt to cars without driver aids in two or three races.

Test chief engineer Christian Silk said, "The whole team was very happy to have Fernando back today. It is a bit like he was never away, and he was very relaxed for the whole day. There is a great deal to discuss with the engineers, and we covered a lot of ground, so it has been an encouraging day."

Raikkonen's Ferrari temmate Felipe Massa rolled to a 1:19.772 in 86 laps. The Ferrari pair evaluated set-up changes and practiced starts in their F2008s.

Nico Rosberg, WilliamsF1 Team, FW29 Concept car.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Driving an FW29B, Nico Rosberg of Williams split the times of the Ferraris with a 1:19.755 set in 81 laps. Williams' new car, the FW30, is scheduled to begin tests next week in Valencia, Spain.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and De la Rosa completed 242 laps in MP4-23s, Kovalainen racking up a 1:19.780 quick lap.

In Red Bull's RB3-03, Webber completed 80 laps with a quick lap of 1:20.392 as the team focused on developing electronic systems, tuning the gearbox and practicing starts. They worked without problem. Webber will continue in the RB3 Wednesday with David Coulthard returning to drive the new car, the RB4.

Toyota's testing continued with Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi driving. Glock, driving the TF108/02 in his first test appearance, continued systems checks and data accumulation begun Monday by Jarno Trulli. Third driver Kobayashi tested the 2008 gearbox and electronics on the TF107. A minor exhaust issue interferred with Kobayashi's laps. Glock completed 110 laps (302 miles) with a quick time of 1:20.598.

"It was an exciting experience to drive the TF108 for the first time, and I think it went well" Glock said. "We did a lot of laps and got a lot of data, which was our main target today, so I am pleased with that. My first impression of thecar is generally positive, but at this stage of the year it is too early to truly know how competitive it will be."

Fisichella drove 76 laps with a quick lap of 1:20.764 for Force India. As did other teams, Force India focused on set-ups and integrating the standard electronic control unit.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India F1 Team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"We did most of the program, but unfortunately, we had some minor mechanical issues," Fisichella said. "At the end, with the new tires, there was a possibility to have a faster time, but there was traffic and then I made a mistake. But it's quite encouraging. I think we can improve quite a lot."

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Sebasian Vettel (STR2-02) and Sebastien Bourdais (STR2-01) swapped cars as the team evaluated aerodynamic components and continued development work on the electronic and gearbox systems. Additionally, Vettel evaluated brake materials and both drivers completed long runs to simulate race conditions. Vettel's quick lap was a 1:20.305 in 86 laps, Bourdais's a 1:20.346 in 76.

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