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Fernando Alonso fastest on the opening day of F1 testing at Silverstone

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Fernando Alonso fastest on the opening day of F1 testing at Silverstone
Jul 12, 2016, 8:31 PM

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso topped the first day of Formula 1 testing at Silverstone, which was disrupted by rain falling throughout the afternoon ...

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso topped the first day of Formula 1 testing at Silverstone, which was disrupted by rain falling throughout the afternoon and debris dropping from the start gantry.

Alonso’s lap of 1m31.290s, which he set on supersoft tyres during the morning session aboard the MP4-31, was not beaten later in the day due to the wet weather. The afternoon session was briefly red flagged when a piece of wood fell from the start light structure, but it landed on a section of the track away from the racing line.

The Spaniard completed 105 laps, a total only bested by Esteban Ocon, who ended the day second fastest for Mercedes. The 19-year-old Frenchman is on-loan to Renault as a reserve driver for the 2016 season alongside his racing duties for Mercedes in the DTM championship, and his best lap of the 123 he managed was 1.543s adrift of Alonso’s best time, albeit set on medium compound tyres, as raced in Sunday's Grand Prix. The medium was 1.7 seconds slower than the soft at the weekend.

Ocon is a protege of Mercedes, like Pascal Wehlein. He was discovered - and formerly managed - by Eric Boullier when he worked for Lotus and Gravity Management. Toto Wolff bought out his contract.

Paddock wisdom puts him in one of the RENAULT F1 cars next season and possibly sooner.

Esteban Ocon

British GP2 racer Alex Lynn was third quickest for Williams on medium Pirellis, one spot in front of Ferrari junior driver Charles Leclerc, who made his maiden F1 test appearance for the Scuderia just four days after he drove for Haas F1 during FP1 at the British Grand Prix. But Leclerc only completed 19 laps over the course of the day, and managed just two in the afternoon running, due to power unit issues.

Force India development driver Nikita Mazepin was fifth quickest on his first appearance for the Silverstone-based team, with Carlos Sainz sixth for Toro Rosso.

Santino Ferrucci, Haas F1’s development driver, made his test debut for the American squad and he finished seventh fastest, after completing 55 laps.

Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein finished eighth fastest for Mercedes. The German driver, a reserve driver for the German manufacturer, was driving a 2014-spec car fitting with special Pirelli tyres that feature elements of the Italian company’s prototype 2017 rubber

Wehrlein’s Manor teammate Rio Haryanto finished ninth fastest, one place in front of Sergey Sirotkin, who made his second F1 appearance of the season for Renault after his outing in FP1 at the Russian Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly finished at the bottom of the timesheets for Red Bull, with his best lap 12.601 seconds slower than Alonso.

The Monegasque GP2 driver tested the halo cockpit protection device during the morning session, as Red Bull became the second team to run the structure following Ferrari’s tests at Barcelona in pre-season and then during FP1 last week at Silverstone.

Red Bull had developed and trialled an alternative device called the Aeroscreen, which has since struggled in FIA tests, and the governing body is pressing ahead with its plans to fit the halo to all cars next season.

Daniel Ricciardo

For the sport to adopt the device into its regulations for 2017 it would have to be approved by the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission. Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal, explained that he would not be voting for the halo at this stage.

He said: “Personally I am not a big fan of the Halo. I think it is an inelegant solution to the problem it is trying to deal with.

“I would prefer there to be more research time taken to do the job properly rather than rushing something through that may have other consequences.

Pierre Gasly

“I am not a big fan of the Halo and the limitations that it has. I certainly wouldn't vote in favour at the moment.”

If the halo’s introduction is blocked at the F1 Strategy Group or Commission levels, the FIA could still force the device’s use through on the grounds of safety. The FIA's Laurent Mekies said in a presentation at the recent FIA Sport Conference that the idea was to use the halo as an interim measure for 2017 while the aeroscreen was perfected as the long term solution.

What do you make of the first day of testing at Silverstone? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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