Nico Rosberg overcame a gearbox issue to top the times on the first day of testing at Barcelona today, as Fernando Alonso had a productive day on his first outing in the new Ferrari F138.
After missing the Jerez test to focus on his physical preparation for the season Alonso completed the most laps of any driver today as he focused primarily on heavy fuel runs on the hard tyre. His times increased steadily during the stints of around sixteen laps and he finished the day with 110 laps. The late flurry in the final half an hour, which saw Rosberg knock Sebastian Vettel from the top spot, gave Alonso a chance to push his new car to the limit with a low fuel run on medium tyres, which put him in third place.
Pastor Maldonado was the other driver testing new machinery after the Williams FW35 was unveiled in Barcelona this morning and he also had a productive day as he topped the times early in the day before switching attentions to long stints in the afternoon. Williams will be happy to have had a trouble free first day, on the track at least. The FIA has already questioned the legality of the exhausts and the team has confirmed that it is seeking clarifications as to whether it will be able to take the design forward.
Rosberg and Mercedes did not seem to be having such a successful day after they were forced to make gearbox changes for a long period, but they made amends late in the afternoon with a long run followed by a short run on mediums to finish the day 7/1000ths of a second faster than Raikkonen.
“We were able to work through a good programme this afternoon and, of course, it’s always nice to be quickest at the end of the day,” said Rosberg. “In general, I feel happy and comfortable in the car and it feels better than the last time we were here at this track.
“There is still some work to be done on tyre degradation and our programme this afternoon was helpful in understanding that.”
Kimi Raikkonen filled the space between Rosberg and Alonso in a positive but low-key day for Lotus. The Finn completed the fewest laps of anyone as he concentrated on short runs and he too used a set of mediums to set his quickest time late in the day.
In fourth was Sebastian Vettel, who had looked to finish the day on top before the final half an hour but still had a productive day in the RB9. He initially led the field at lunchtime ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso, with all three setting their fastest time on the hard tyre but the times tumbled once again when teams swapped to the medium compound. Red Bull spent much of the afternoon on the medium tyre with high fuel and Vettel was able to lap quickly throughout the stint, which bodes well for the season ahead.
Sergio Perez had a quiet day for McLaren after missing the majority of the morning. He ended the day towards the bottom of the times but during the next three days of the test we are sure to see McLarens potential.
Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi look set to shoot out for the second Force India seat, the final seat on the grid during this week’s test.
Barcelona Test Day 1
1. Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.616s 54 Laps
2. Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.623s +0.007 44 Laps
3. Alonso Ferrari 1m22.952s +0.336 110 Laps
4. Vettel Red Bull 1m22.965s +0.349 66 Laps
5. Maldonado Williams 1m23.733s +1.117 86 Laps
6. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.884s +1.268 73 Laps
7. Perez McLaren 1m24.124s +1.508 77 Laps
8. Di Resta Force India 1m24.144s +1.528 82 Laps
9. Gutierrez Sauber 1m25.124s +2.508 68 Laps
10. Chilton Marussia 1m26.747s +4.131 65 Laps
11. Pic Caterham 1m27.534s +4.918 49 Laps