F1

Alonso quickest as test days fade

Alonso quickest as test days fade

Fernando Alonso topped test times in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, on Monday as four Formula One teams toiled at their final days of preseason preparation. At the wheel of a Renault R29, the Spaniard churned out a quick lap of 1 minute, 18.343 ...

Fernando Alonso topped test times in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, on Monday as four Formula One teams toiled at their final days of preseason preparation. At the wheel of a Renault R29, the Spaniard churned out a quick lap of 1 minute, 18.343 seconds. He was followed by Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP in 1:18.398, Jenson Button of Brawn GP in 1:18.892, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes in 1:19.513, and Nico Rosberg of Williams F1 in 1:19.783.

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

Sunny skies and air temperatures reaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit greeted drivers who more warmly embraced track temps to 100 degrees. The season's first two races, Australia on March 29 and Malaysia on April 5, are among the hottest of the season.

His Sunday test hindered by an off that resulted in reduced laps, Alonso, who completed his part of winter testing, made up for lost track time with 103 laps of aerodynamic evaluations.

"I'm happy with the day as we did more than a 100 laps, which was our target for my final day of winter testing," Alonso said. "This has been the first time we have run on a really hot track, and the information we have from today will be very useful for the first few races, which are usually very hot. I'm also a bit sad that this is the final test of the year with my test team, but I will see them at the factory soon. I have to say thanks for the amazing job they have done this winter because we are really well prepared for the new season. We can go to Australia knowing that we have maximized the time we had available."

Chief test engineer Christian Silk commended Alonso's test contribution. Nelson Piquet continues Renault's test Tuesday.

"We had a good day with lots of work to get through and we ran to program pretty much all day," Silk said. "The conditions were good for testing as it was hot, which leaves us well prepared for Melbourne and, overall, we're happy with the results that we've got. I just want to say a big thanks to Fernando for the excellent job he has had done this winter: He's such a good test driver and has worked hard to leave us well prepared for the start of the season."

Rubens Barrichello, BrawnGP, BGP001, Nico Rosberg, WilliamsF1 Team, FW31.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Even as their boss, Ross Brawn, splashing among the barracudas, found himself having to defend his drivers' fast times, Barrichello and Button again pushed the Mercedes-powered BGP001 to the top half of time charts. Or at least to sub-1:19 times on the 2.75-mile Circuito de Jerez, good for second- and third-best among five drivers. Brawn told German publication Auto Motor Und Sport that the new team's times, even if unofficial, are genuine and not low-fuel one-offs to attract sponsors, as has been inferred by rival team principals and one former team principal.

Barrichello continued evaluating setups and tires, which he began Sunday. The Brazilian set a quick lap of 1:18.398 among 62 laps covered. He handed off to teammate Button for the afternoon only for the Englishman to have the gearbox conk out after 12 laps. Button posted a 1:18.892 before he was stranded on track.

Lewis Hamilton found himself in the odd spot of following compatriot Button on timesheets. The world champion managed only a 1:19.513 in 87 laps in the McLaren Mercedes MP4-24. He tried new aerodynamic changes to the car then spent the afternoon on long runs to evaluate tire graining.

Workhorse of the day Nico Rosberg of Williams pounded out 123 laps with a best of 1:19.783 in the Toyota-powered Williams FW31.

Ever phlegmatic test team manager Dickie Stanford said, "Nico Rosberg had his final two days of testing the car today before the first race in Australia. We completed a very full program, with the majority of laps spent on setup work. Nico will carry on testing tomorrow."

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