Jerez test day 4: Alonso strikes early to end week on a high
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Feb 2012   |  7:03 pm GMT  |  113 comments

Much had been made of Ferrari’s relatively low-key start to pre-season testing with the new F2012 but Fernando Alonso ensured everyone was talking about the new challenger in a more positive light today as he ended the final day at Jerez fastest of all.

Red Bull, meanwhile, ran into their first reliability setback of the year after an electrical problem struck early on the RB8 to leave world champion Sebastian Vettel a spectator for much of the day, although he still finished third in the order.

While issues with the F2012 meant Alonso himself completed only 39 laps, his early forays gave a first glimpse of the new car’s underlying pace despite Ferrari having stressed since the start of the week’s running that, given the radically different nature of their new challenger, the first test has been all about data gathering rather than lap times.

Taking the soft Pirelli tyres for two relatively short stints, he first set a time of a 1m19.289s before immediately lowering that mark to 1m18.877s at the start of his next six-lap run, which put him within four tenths of a second of the best lap achieved by Lotus’s Romain Grosjean yesterday.

He didn’t improve thereafter in his limited re-appearances on the track but it was still enough to see him finish 0.720s clear of surprise second-placed man Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.

Frenchman Vergne, completing his second day in the car, said the more familiar he got with the STR7 the more he was able to understand and develop set-up directions which he believes took the car’s performance forward.

Vettel returned to the track at 2.25pm local time and squeezed in 50 laps to finish right behind Vergne, with Lewis Hamilton putting another 86 laps on the McLaren to take a close fourth.

Some minor water leaks on the promising Lotus E20, meanwhile, interrupted Grosjean’s second day in the car. The Frenchman, who still ended the week with the fastest time for a 2012 machine, got his first run on Pirelli’s soft tyres this morning before switching to some longer-run simulations in the afternoon.

Sauber were another team to run into some minor glitches – a hydraulics leak on the C31 stopping Kamui Kobayashi out on the circuit and causing a brief red-flag period – but elsewhere there were some impressive lap totals.

The new Renault-engined Williams ran reliability enough for Bruno Senna to complete his week’s work with 125 laps, while Nico Hulkenberg’s lap count totalled 90 as the German finally got his pre-season underway following Jules Bianchi’s untimely crash in the Force India VJM05 yesterday.

Caterham’s new CT01, which is equipped with KERS for the first time this winter, also continued to run very reliably and today allowed Jarno Trulli to get 117 laps on the board on his return to action.

The veteran Italian has already seen enough to declare the new car a step forward: “My first impression of the car was that it is good – a definite progression from 2011 and a good basis for us to work on for the season ahead. Its reliability has been demonstrated all week here in Jerez and we have generated a lot of data, particularly on KERS and the 2012 tyres which will help us improve setups for the next couple of tests.”

“We know there’s a lot more to come in pure pace – perhaps we were the only team to run without dropping the fuel but we wanted to focus on running through the development program and making sure we completed the plan each day.”

1. Alonso Ferrari 1m18.877s 39 Laps
2. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m19.597s 80 Laps
3. Vettel Red Bull 1m19.606s 50 Laps
4. Hamilton McLaren 1m19.640s 86 Laps
5. Grosjean Lotus 1m19.729s 95 Laps
6. Kobayashi Sauber 1m19.834s 76 Laps
7. Hulkenberg Force India 1m19.977s 90 Laps
8. Senna Williams 1m20.132s 125 Laps
9. Trulli Caterham 1m22.198s 117 Laps

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

james. webber claims he’s not retiring soon. i wonder if he has a 1 year ferrari contract in his back pocket?


Think he could be regarded as being the driver that has done the best job all in all in recent yrs without actually ever winning a title.

Certainly deserves a “notch” season with Ferrari (who would not at some point in there career) would be a great no2 til they find the timing for the next ideal young gun to step in.


You never know, Certainly wants to be considered if he has a strong first half of season.


Most seems to forget, that all teams “best lap times” where made on low fuel run and on soft tires!

Why Ferrari best lap is more fluke than the ones posted by the other teams, cannot be explained rationally!


No. For example Räikkönen and Grosjean made they best laps on medium tires.

tire compounds for best laps:

Day 1

1 Raikkonen 1.19,670 new mediums

2 di Resta 1.19,772 new mediums

3 Rosberg 1.20,219 new softs

Day 2

1 Schumacher 1.18,561 new hards

2 Webber 1.19,184 new softs

3 Ricciardo 1.19,587 new softs

Day 3

1 Rosberg 1.17,631 new softs

2 Grosjean 1.18,419 new mediums

3 Vettel 1.19,297 new softs

Day 4

1 Alonso 1.18,877 new softs

2 Vergne 1.19,597 new softs

3 Vettel 1.19,606 new mediums…testow-w-jerez/


Sandbagging with a cheeky overall unreadable statement comes to mind!!


Hi James,

Ted Kravitz reported…

Amusing end to Jerez test as Alonso swings into pit, then reverses into his garage! Crowd applaud, Fernando waves, crowd go suitably wild…

Stopped, selected reverse, near parallel parked into the garage. Never seen it done before. Mechanics not involved till the end

Any news on why he did it, or he just felt like having a bit of fun? Quite cool either way…


No idea.Very usual…


Well One thing is for sure if you are in the Ferrari camp you will always have pressure because of the prestigious history.

James if Ferrari do not pull it together do you think Alonso will find greener pastures?

His career is playing out very similar to Schumacher’s at moment. Michael had a onslaught on the championship for most of the seasons before 2000’s but crucially did not get them.

Will Fernando have the patience to build them team around him to make it work like Michael did?

My opinion is that Ferrari need to give him a good car this year if not then he might jump ship and that is shown in his track record where he jumped from Renault to Mclaren and then back.


He asked them to take risks with the design and they’ve done that. He’s part of the process, but yes his patience will not last for ever


Hey James, love the website, how much of this years design on the cars would get carried over into next season? Were you surprised when Ferrari developed a totally new car, and the key rival teams an evolution of last years? Have Ferrari taken next years regulations into consideration to try and get ahead in 2013?


Quite a bit I reckon; 2013 is the last year of this formula before we go to completely different cars and drivetrains.


My guess is that Maranello people themselves were giving this same advice to Alonso !!


Everyone will believe what they want to believe when it comes to these testing times. But they mean absolutely nothing. Zilch.

But of course, we’ll still debate them because we love F1 and we just want something to think and talk about.

The one thing that I think is becoming clear: it’s going to be an exciting season compared to last year!


If supposedly Alonso’s time was a glory run, I’m very surprised why would Ferrari have to do that. I mean a mega team like Ferrari being pressurised by press, can’t believe that.

They should just go on and do their program. If the car has potential, it will deliver. They should just proceed to understand the car, they have star driver Alonso which makes the job easier. Once they get a hold of their car, it’ll produce times.


James, Massa’s time in the ferrari brought nothing useful (or at least it seemed he and his engineer couldn’t extract a lot out of the car) but alonso was able to get the more out of the car in the last 2 days. Do you think this say something about Alonso’s ability to develop a car or Massa’s lack of this ability? Could it be that Alonso did really bring the 0.5 or 0.8 secs in the Mclaren in 2007?

Grayzee (Australia)

Ah, dear boys and girls. So much conjecture. Of course, none of us KNOW anything yet, until Australia Q3. Just guessing.

Di Resta summed it up when asked what was different on his car this year “Well, the nose is different, and the exhaust point in a different direction. The colour has changed, and it has black wheels………”

We punters know nothing……yet!

Let’s all wait for Melbourne.


It was a glory run on softs for Nando, so I’m not impressed at all. Obviously the world’s most prominent sports car brand is in trouble once again, what’s new. I hope I’m very wrong when the first race begins.

Testing makes us all excited and start forming opinions who has the best car and so forth. For the hardcore fans testing is a form of release from our withdrawal system.


Cant believe the amount of people that think every test day and even lap time should be read upon simply for the lap time at any time.

The word CIRCUMSTANCE worth a thought!

Tornillo Amarillo

What to say…

Perez is faster than Massa and Bianchi.


Ferrari clearly felt the need to respond to recent articles about their 2012 challenger, but why?

Everybody in the know realises that testing is precisely that, it’s not Q3 in Melbourne and we won’t know the true 2012 contenders until then.

My advice to Ferrari: focus on improving the car, run your test programs and don’t respond to panic stricken PR staff in Maranello and their need to appease the media beast.


Apologies James. I meant to say that you did not mention that Alonso was the only one of the 2012 runners to set a headline time on soft tyres.


Yes, it says it clearly in the second para!! Vergne also used a new set of soft tyres today


What was Rosberg Shumi and the French Lotus guy’s (cant remember how to spell his name) fastest time’s set on super soft’s ???


What a strange pre-season begining for Ferrari. They were absolutely lost at the end of the first day and did not seemed like it was changing at all during days 2 and 3, specialy after what PF said on Wednesday. I’m pretty sure that this fast time Fernando set today was basicaly to calm everybody and dimish the preasue they had on their shoulders, but after all the time they have lost with the electronic issue the sensations were definetly bad for most of us. And then appears FA saying they have passed from white to black with the car, that they did not understand it the first day but now things have changed a lot. He has also talked about how has the car improved on tyre warming, and that they will start Barcelona in a much better position than this Tuesday. Still a hard work to do before Melbourne, but everything looks better than expected from a couple of days ago.


Now that almost everybody has shaken the cobwebbs off, its the next two test that will really tell us something.


I agree and I’ll be at both of the Barca tests


Hi James

The Red Bull and Ferrari seem to be sporting an element in the rear wing that only Mclaren had last year. I mean the “brushes” at the base of the rear wing. Am I mistaken or is it the first time I have seen these imitations?


By the end of last year, plenty of teams were running those


ferrari it seems like what all have expressed may have just did a glory run to keep the press of their back …pat fry will certainly be feeling the heat and fury of the Ferrari top mgmt …he was brought into the fold to bring them their long deserved glory …i have a strong feeling that a ex ferrari designer may be having a small chuckle after seeing the Ferrari genuinely struggle.. they could be very well be the 5th best team this season and that is not a good place to be …pat fry get ready to be fried !


Bit early for that now isn’t… let’s wait and see what happens in the next tests and the races. I think they have made an agressive car that could potentially be very fast, but because its so different needs lots of work and a couple of updates to sort out. Red Bulls car is close to last years car so it works well out of the box it seems. McLaren looks to have gone a rather conservative route… It seems to be reversed from last season, when Ferrari was on the pace at the beginning with a conventional car, with McLaren nowhere close. But the McLaren had much more developmental possibilities so they got better and better whilst Ferrari were stuck most of the time.


a month to Aus GP …hopefully Ferrari get things in order or hopefully discover the complete potential …Alonso is a great driver ..and he deserves a good car …he will certainly livens up the grid with those blitering starts ..


Did they make the exhaust legal again before today’s test? The top of the exit pipe was cut out before.

But good for Ferrari to have some spirit back, it looked very gloomy before.


Almost impossible to say anything after the first test. I think at this stage only engineers more or less know what the situation is. Last year people did not know how fast Red Bull was, but it was reported already after the first test that it will be around 0.3 sec faster than Ferrari and that it was taking corners very smoothly. It appeared to be super fast, about 0.8 sec faster than Ferrari.

So….James…what is the word from engineers this time?


That the midfield looks close, certainly. Should be a great battle there.

Judgement reserved on front runners until we see all top 4 teams pushing it in Barcelona


Where do you see Williams when it comes to the serious stuff?? late mid table?.

I really don’t think things are looking good for them this season and thought so before the end of last season and that was before the drivers were confirmed frankly i don’t think it would matter who was driving they would still struggle for upper mid table no matter what engine you throw in the back.


We will certainly see!


Makes sense to judge a team based on the previous season if their car design philosophy or team personnel were pretty much similar.

Williams brought in Mike Coughlan. I don’t see how can you come to the conclusion of their coming season will be “late mid table” and base it on previous season.


Hopefully when the Merc launch their car …we will get a feel of the pecking order … it seems they may have something special on their hands after 2 dry seasons …brawn will be very much keen to break into the top fold now with all the resources and 2 fine drivers made availabe to him…


Although Ferrari did get the top spot today, it must be worrying to them that their lap times got dramatically worse on subsequent laps. Is the car hard on tires? They had problems heating the tires last season, did they overcorrect in trying to fix that?


But perhaps Hamilton’s most revealing remark was this: “You never know what fuel loads people are on. I think we’ve been quite aggressive with our fuel loads.”

A translation of which seems to be that McLaren are running with less fuel on board than they might normally be expected to – which will make their lap times look more impressive.

extract from BBC website – Aggressive could also mean they were quite heavy, no?

Any thoughts James?


I think Lewis meant they were running heavy. Mclaren is always sandbagging during testing.


Well considering that he did some 1.19 today on a first lap of a stint that lasted 13 laps and was interrupted by Kobayashi red flag, I’ve got reasons to believe that he meant heavy.

Don’t know where the Mac stands compared to others but he definitely had the speed to go faster.



On a slightly off topic, I wanted to know about this stepped nose design. Will Merc GP bring back the famous Brawn stooping nose (which was last seen on the Brawn GP car) and will that be in line with the regulation?

This way the cars are no longer an eyesore with these stepped noses


Maybe you ought to ask someone from Merc GP.

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