As expected, there was an amazing buzz around the final day of the first 2010 Formula One test at Valencia. An amazing 36,400 fans showed up at the Spanish tack today according to the official Valencia spectator figures, each paying 5 euros. With 3 Spanish drivers on track, as well as the reigning World Champion and a 7-times World Champion, that 5 euros was a bargain!
Today was a day of firsts:
- Fernando Alonso drove the Ferrari for the first time
- Jenson Button drove the 2010 McLaren for the first time (F1 geeks will know he test drove a McLaren in 1999 after winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award)
- Last year’s GP2 Champion, Nico “the Hulk” Hulkenburg, drove his Williams for the first time
- Russian driver and rookie Vitaly Petrov drove his Renault car for the first time
- and in the UK, brand new F1 team, Virgin Racing, launched their car
As always, we have to be careful about what conclusions we make from these tests as we don’t know the respective fuel loads and there is still a lot of testing and development work to be performed before we get to Bahrain.
The main headline from today is that Fernando Alonso took little time in getting to grips with his Ferrari and topped the timesheets for the majority of the day. He quickly got his times down to 1min 12secs pace and by midday had just pipped Massa’s time from yesterday. He then lowered his time further and then further again to achieve a 1mins 11.470secs lap which would be the fastest of the day and, indeed, of the whole 3-day testing session.
The fastest lap times from today were as follows:
1. Alonso (SPA) – Ferrari – 127 laps – 1min 11.472 secs
2. de la Rosa (SPA) – Sauber – 80 laps – 1min 12.094 secs
3. Schumacher (GER) – Mercedes – 82 laps – 1 min 12.438 secs
4. Alguersuari (SPA) – Toro Rosso – 97 laps – 1min 12.576 secs
5. Button (GBR) – McLaren – 82 laps – 1min 12.951 secs
6. Petrov (RUS) – Renault – 75 laps – 1 min 13.097 secs
7. Hulkenburg (GER) -Williams- 126 laps – 1:13.669 secs
Current World Champion Jenson Button had a quiet day in his new McLaren and finished with a fastest time 0.7 secs off the time Hamilton produced yesterday and 1.5secs slower than Alonso. He did not complete many laps in the morning and reported suffering seating problems. In the afternoon he seemed to concentrate on heavier fuel load runs rather than going for a quick time.
Today’s test saw de la Rosa and Hulkenburg have a minor coming together but no real damage was done. Late into the day the crowd got excited as Alonso in his Ferrari closed up to Button in his McLaren. Alonso got right up to the rear wing of Button and fireworks were let off in the grandstand. Button held firm and Alonso backed off. A few laps later Alonso was behind Button again and the Brit let him through.
So, what did we learn from today?
- Alonso is very much settled, comfortable and quick at Ferrari
- The Ferrari is fast and reliable, completing 127 laps today.
- Sauber (also using a Ferrari engine) continue to be quick, being 2nd fastest for the 3rd day running. De la Rosa could not quite beat Kobayashi’s time from yesterday.
- Mercedes, McLaren, Williams, Toro Rosso and Renault all seem to have a similar pace. Ross Brawn admitted that Mercedes are, at this stage, “a little off on pace”
- Alguersuari did well today and produced a fastest time 1.3secs quicker than his teammate
Some photos from today posted on twitter from a variety of sources: