Barcelona Test Day 3: Alonso Tops The Times But All Eyes Are On Sutil
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By:   |  21 Feb 2013   |  6:30 pm GMT  |  116 comments

Fernando Alonso completed his first week in the new Ferrari F138 by topping the times on the third day of testing in Barcelona, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean.

Alonso – who is handing the car over to Felipe Massa tomorrow for the final day of the test – used today as a chance to show his team’s pace on the soft compound tyre, completing a number of single-lap runs during the morning session. His time today was within 1/10th of Sergio Perez’s time yesterday, and half a second quicker than Alonso managed in Q3 of qualifying last year.

Alonso traded fastest laps with Pastor Maldonado this morning as they both ran on the soft tyre but they were eventually split by Hulkenberg just before lunch, when he also completed a one lap run using the same tyre. Maldonado dropped down the times as he focused on a race simulation before handing the FW35 over to Valtteri Bottas this afternoon.

The biggest story of the day was always going to be Adrian Sutil’s comeback behind the wheel of a Force India. On his first day in F1 machinery since 2011, the German ended the day a second off Alonso’s ultimate pace. It was an important day for Sutil since he will be giving the car over to Jules Bianchi tomorrow before Force India make their decision on who will fill the teams second seat.

Hulkenberg gave Sauber a competitive day with his soft tyre run in the afternoon to put himself within 3/10ths of Alonso. From then the Swiss squad switched their attentions to long runs with a heavy fuel load.

Lotus had a much needed trouble-free day following their gearbox issues yesterday, with Grosjean completing the most laps of anyone and ending the day with a race simulation.

Nico Rosberg and Mercedes spent much of the morning gathering data without setting any competitive times, but later used a set of mediums to get within 7/10ths of the overall best. Interestingly, and as like Lewis Hamilton yesterday, it was set at the beginning of a seven lap run with a high fuel load relative to the one-lap runners.

It seems at this point, when comparing long runs on the same tyre, that Mercedes and Lotus are very closely matched. Rosberg looked to be running faster during their stints but Grosjean had a heavier fuel load as he completed his race simulation in the afternoon. When Grosjean came to the final stint of his race sim, and with a lower fuel load, his pace matched that of Rosberg earlier in the day.

That will be pleasing for Mercedes as the W04 has got to grips with this years Pirellis better than it has in the previous two years and they can compete with Lotus, who were particularly good at making their tyres last in 2012.

It has been frequently mentioned this week that the new tyres are degrading at a quicker rate than last year. However, as JA on F1 Technical Adviser Mark Gillan hinted earlier in the week, Pirelli believes that the tyres are graining due to the cold track temperatures and believe that once they move to the warmer climates of the season, the tyres will be fine once in their operating range.

Finally, Mark Webber ended the day over a second off Alonso and in ninth place. He also completed a race simulation for Red Bull this afternoon.

Barcelona Test Day 4
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.875s 97 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m22.160s +0.285 91
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m22.188s +0.313 119
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.611s +0.736 108
5. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.675s +0.800 79
6. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.826s +0.951 68
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m22.840s +0.965 71
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m22.877s +1.002 78
9. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m23.024s +1.149 108
10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.366s +1.491 106
11. Max Chilton Marussia 1m25.690s +3.815 58
12. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m26.177s +4.302 83

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Probably no one is reading this post anymore but anyway: I was reading a great article about Bruno Senna in Autosport and he came across as a real racer. One of the main points was him saying “wining is underrated in F1” and I’m thinking actually driving is underrated in F1. Look at Sutil: I’m suprised he hasn’t made any real effort to race since he left F1. That would really trouble me as an D1 boss..


Thank you Robert for explaining that..


James, bit off topic but…

I’ve always been anti Sky TV, but an finally going to bite the bullet and order it for this season. How about a straw poll, to see how many people got Sky for the F1 coverage? I’d be interested to know…



I have had Sky for over 20 years – way back when the full package was about £7/month and F1 was on Eurosport. But that was the reason I got sky, as the BBC (prior to F1 going over to ITV and then back to BBC) did not show all the races live and Eurosport did.

Personally,I think their coverage is excellent and best of all they don’t have Eddie Jordan and his ridiculous shirts!


Can we agree now that the Ferrari is competitive and that “the car is a truck” can’t be used to excuse Alonso’s poor performances.. 😉


James sorry this a little of topic. Did you read the comments Jenson Button make yesterday about the new McLaren?

He sounded like they are having many problems with the car. I don´t think Jenson is the kind of guy who would play mind games with other teams.


So if Lewis and Sutil are no longer “real life friends”, and one is holding a grudge against the other, does it mean that if Sutil gets the drive then there is potential for more brawls on the circuit???


So Pirelli are basically saying that their tyres don’t work well in cool/cold weather ?

Did they tell the Teams this before the testing ? Or they’ve just discovered it now ?


It is nothing unusual for tyres to be temperature sensitive. Winter road tyres function much better in cold weather than standard summer tyres even if there is no snow. I’ll defend Pirelli’s competence in making race tyres in this instance, even if it is unknown exactly how it would go in competition with another manufacturer. The company is basically demonstrating it knowledge in how it can temporarily flummox the race engineers in F1.

The exact nature of how the tyres degrade in cold weather can be guessed, but the only running these tyres have had has been on the 2010 Toyota and in Brazil last year, so it is not indicative. In Brazil the drivers liked the tyres.



I spose the underlying issue is : Why do testing in weather/temperature conditions that are not comparable to the conditions that will be experienced at the actual race weekends ?

It’s a bit like practising your tennis on clay court when you know you will be playing on a hardcourt !



A large part of it is that they’re testing in winter in the northern hemisphere. They have to test somewhere and I can understand why they’d want to stay in Europe, but chances are that at this time of year there’s somewhere else in the world where they could test with comparable temperatures to what they actually race with…but I’d be very surprised if that ever actually happened.


This tyre degradation lark. Im not that bothered by stories of loads of pit stops and one lap wonder tyres, I can live with that, but what of the resulting marbles all over the track? If its extreme, wont that badly effect overtaking?


Guess we’ll have to wait for the first few races to see how soon will teams pit for new rubber. In 2011 the marbles left on the track were incredible and unbelievable though.

In less than 3 weeks the first race commence, wonderful.


Mercedes haven’t shown their hand yet. They seem to be very confident. I’m expecting a big improvement from Mercedes in 2013.


Just remember that Lewis said the Mercedes clearly has less downforce than last year’s McLaren. In race conditions this is less of an issue, but downforce is key to qualifying pace and that sets up the race. Mercedes may have big hopes for its upgrades, but is an ever moving target.

Fernando Piccione

Hey James,

I´m a Brazilian Die Hard F1 fan and just want to know what´s going on with Marussia and Luiz Razia , I thought he will be out there driving the car but, it just didnt happen.

Do you have any info regarding this ?




Hi James,

Is Ferrari’s passive DRS similar to Redbull’s where it exits through the diffuser? They the extra opening behind the usual inlet.


To show much we weren’t paying attention, that inlet was also on the 2012 car. I only noticed it this year in photos comparing the this and last year’s cars. If I remember correctly the comment was that it provides an inlet for cooling the gearbox and also smoothes the effect the airbox has on the flow to the rear wing.


I saw a picture where there seemed to be some channels going down the side for the rear wing to the diffuser. I think on That’s what made me think they have this kind of passive DRS.


Poor Micheal!


And there goes Pirelli to spoil another season… Will we ever see proper racing tires being used in F1 again? I dread for the answer.


No matter what the formula there will always be some limiting factor, this time it’s the tires, before it was fuel or engines. at every point in history there has been something that the drivers have to think about conserving while simultaneously racing. this is not a new thing.

I’m not a fan of the DRS but these tires seem to be working, they’re aiming for 2 pit stops a race with there being a realistic crossover point where 1 or 3 stops could be faster. This is what the teams and the FIA asked them to do. I’d say that’s about right.

Keep in mind that it is february, so it is much colder than it will be during the season so the tires aren’t really in their proper working conditions and are degrading faster than normally. Also Pirelli can make minor adjustments to the tires throughout the year if things get out of hand. The end is not nigh and the F1 sky is not falling, well at least not because of the Pirellis.


I completely agree with you – this 2/3 of a season ” lottery” is nonsense. They banned refuelling stops and now they’re aiming for 4- 5 tyre stops instead- seriously where is the sense in that..May the best tyre engineers win !- lets “improve the show” and tame the come the comments


Slightly unfair I think, Pirelli have been asked by the F1 group for tyres that do degrade.

Then everyone complains!


I dont get this criticism over Di Resta, he is not a poor driver, and was beaten by Sutil in his rookie year by only a small amount. Last year he was beaten by someone who I believe to be one of the better drivers on the grid, so again not disgraceful. He is not slow, scores good points and hardly ever crashes, not something you find in many F1 drivers! What gets me is that people criticize over him saying he is disappointed not to have gone to a top team, show me a driver who doesn’t want to be in a top team, and I will show you a driver who shouldn’t be in F1! And about him beating vettel that year, he only goes on about it when asked! He does have a dull personality, but he is Scottish. I am not a fan boy, just tired of the constant slating Di Resta has gotten over the winter break, in some cases for no other reason then people want to stir some rubbish up.

And anyway Bianchi is not exactly a step forward, not a bad driver, but not destined to set the world alight.


How will we know if Bianci is not given a chance – every one of his tests even last year were very impressive . I would leave Paul in & give Bianci a go. !


Put him in a Redbull now and Vettel would destroy him, Vettel that year was only 16 and not even a proper adult, but soon he proved everyone about his potential at China 2007 and of course Monza 2008, now has Di Resta ever shown these kind of performances in midfield cars? Nope.


Er, how do you know Bianchi’s destiny all of a sudden?


I was pondering (though tbf would probably have never written) a “Welcome to JAonF1 Mrs di Resta!”-type comment to this, but as I kept reading I realised I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written here! Good points well made!


Yes but last season Hulkenber beat him and by many points. And The Incredible Hulk looked a lot more imprenssive with his driving than Di Resta.


Caterham seem to be woefully slow, very worrying, unless their new drivers are just crap!


Yeah, it looks like Caterham took over the role of HRT.


Charles Pic did very good last season in Marussia. I believe that Marussia is performing better this year. Or Max Chilton looks really solid in the car. However I see both teams far behind Toro Rosso, Williams,etc. I was expecting them to get closer to those in the midfield


Well, Pic beat Glock who is good, so they’re probably just slow.


No matter what happens when the real season begins the Red Bulls will find themselves at the front and everyone will start the old game of playing catch-up, ineffective upgrades, and “we’re focusing on 2014” excuses. Watch.


i don’t think so, buddy. the red bull dream is over and out. ferrari is my pick for the title and domination this year. mclaren will be fighting with the bulls and lotus. while the fight between mercedes and sauber will provide the best entertainment of the season.


Is that why Mclaren started last year with the fastest car followed by Lotus and Mercedes? your theory there is flawed, it even seems like Redbull are slow so far this winter, their big upgrade better bring them at least 1 second to stand a chance.


I do not think that is going to be the case. We shall see.


I think the tyres are going to put the teams back into chaos at the start of the season while they get to grips with degradation. So potentially fast for a couple of laps and prance around like a pussy on a hot tin roof before they dive into the pits. Any real racing happening this year?

Tornillo Amarillo

You can win with 4 pitstops!!!

(if the others do 6 or 7…).


Well someone will obviously win, but as the others go further backwards than themselves. It’s an inverted F1 formula. – Not real racing!


I tried three times to ask this question on the Sky running blog but no answer, no nothing. Perhaps you have to be ‘one of the lads’ to get past the moderators?

Anyway, the question is, do the new qualifying restrictions for the DRS use apply to all teams for testing? Or are the doing their own thing? If some do and other don’t all the chatter about times is immaterial, isn’t it?


They have an agreement between themselves on limiting usage


Thanks very much indeed.

So are they following the qualifying restriction, which I think is for just two sectors for DRS?


Webber made mention of trying to activate DRS in non DRS zones – but it wasn’t clear if the wing was opening. That is up to the teams as there is no requirement for the cars to meet all the regulations in testing – the crash tests must be passed, but I’m not sure anything else is prevented.

You’ll need to know more about the headline times, such as on how many laps the driver did on the run and on which lap the time was set and then some other pointer whether it was a light fuel load to have any clue. A driver can easily drop 0.5 s with an error and a lack of commitment over a perfect lap. I also heard suggestions that Button’s fast time on hard’s in Jerez may have had a marginal line at a chicane. True or not with testing times, any shortcuts are not penalised. All the sensors, such as the pods on the roll hoops slow the cars down too.


Why don’t FI go with Sutil & Bianchi and drop Paul. Sutil is better than Paul and Bianchi brings money. 🙂

Tornillo Amarillo

I think Sutil will be the driver and Bianchi the 3rd driver to be promoted in 2014, but of course I can be wrong.



Have thought this also. Drop Di resta. He has not exactly set the world on fire in 2 years of having a solid seat in F1. Sutil and Bianchi would be a good match.

Am happy Sutil is being given a second chance at F1. Without comment on the issue between him and Eric Lux, I do think that he deserved a second chance at his job.


Is Adrian better than Paul? Sutil beat di Resta in di Resta’s debut year by just 15 points. Now that Paul has had a chance to improve (and has done so by more than 15 points), and Adrian has had time off, I’m not sure if Sutil is better.


Think they’re pretty well matched – a much stronger pairing than Di Resta and Bianchi would be – Don’t see Di Resta as being able to lead the team – by all accounts he is very unpopular, a lot of reports of him being sullen and stroppy – giving us dour miserable scots a bad name!


No, it’s just Paul Di Resta. Not the ‘mix’. The Franchitti’s have the same genetic mix but are fabulous people and sporting competitors. If you meet Dario or Marino, you’ll agree. Paul (their cousin with same blood mix) is just a bit of a self entitled kid, which would be fine in F1 of he’d dusted both Sutil or Hulkenberg. Last year chance for Di Resta before his big team dreams evaporate. If he does not comprehensively beat either Bianchi (rookie) or Sutil (returning), the emerging poor perception of Paul will become permenant. Pressure is on.


…truly the worth of boast worlds!


On second thoughts maybe it’s the Scots and Latin genes combining horribly – The Sullen nature of the Scots combined with the Latino stroppiness to make one monotonous yet sulky driver!


True. Probably would be best. Paul was real good in DTM, but F1 just not seems to be his. 2. half of the ’12 season Hulk really put the Hammer down. Shame for Paul – he seems a nice guy – and I enjoyed watching him @ DTM.


Paul DiResta matched Sutil in 2 years. Sutil got replaced with Nico Hulkenberg.

Nico Hulkenberg in his 1st year ended much better than Paul DiResta. Why not give a chance to someone else (definitely not Sutil) ?

That also begs a question – Is Paul DiResta that good ? DiResta has not blown the lights out in his 2 years and seems no superstar.


You’re horribly wrong mate – they were only together for a year and Di Resta certainly did not match him/ Sutil thoroughly beat Di Resta. Also, wasn’t Nico’s first year, was at Williams in 2010. Agree on Di Resta though, not seen anything from him that suggests he’s a superstar – The Hulk’s the real deal though, he should be sitting in a McLaren this year


because unlike Paul, Sutil is a veteran.




I would if I was the chief Indian


What an interesting year it would be if these test times were a true reflection of what the relative performance is, quite the re-shuffling from last year. I can’t wait to see them all run in anger in Melbourne!


Hey, Shane!

I’d say the thing to watch for, during this preseason, is not so much the bonsai, flying lap times, but the consistency in lap times over long runs with fuel loads.

And, of course, reliability over those extended laps, along with, relative tire wear. i also like to watch how Team’s are dealing with their new car issues and how fast they make significant, progressive, steps in solving their overall test gremlins. That’s development pace.

It’s been interesting how from day to day it’s McLaren whose clocked fastest, then Lotus the next day, followed by Red Bull the next day, then Mercedes and on…. Every team is fighting and scratching to make big steps in speed and race pace, it’s quite exciting.

I wasn’t initially impressed by Ferrari’s long test runs, but now they seem to have cleared their earlier niggles and are right up there…. But your right, the green flag drops at Melbourne and I think were are in for a stunning surprise on pole!


As quick as that McLaren appears, I still smell a four-peat and a very unhappy Spaniard.

What’s Ben Franklin’s definition of insanity again?


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”


As for the point of the fast degrading tyres having a make over once we hit the warmer tracks, I don’t think I agree with Professor Mark Gillan and other F1 fans.

I mean if this was the case then the drivers would have mentioned worrying about the tyres last year, in 2010 and during the Brigdestone years.

But as you know, the only times the drivers have worried about too much degradation has been at the start of 2011 (when the Wonder kid was the only pilot to visit Pirelli’s factory) and this year.

So yes, am siding with the drivers on this one, we’re going to see lots of pit stops again, thankfully, we won’t have Turkey for the infamous turn 8 is a real tyre killer.


Turns out that it was all down to blown diffuser of course and other drivers could have visited Pirelli’s factory as much as they wanted to, Red Bull was still going to be the car to beat. 🙂


What’s next? Drivers complaining about a certain track because they can’t figure out how to adapt their car to it? Hardly.

These are big boys and can deal with the lot they are given. Particularly when Pirelli was instructed to provide said lot.


This waiting is starting to annoy me now. I need some sort of racing to watch. This testing is just teasing me. Looks like a very close at the front this year at this point. The developments that teams bring to the 3rd test is going to be crucial for the first few fly aways of the season.


Know what you mean… I am actually going to watch the Daytona 500 on Sunday just for some kind of racing fix… lol


Now, with Alonso’s time being a tenth of Perez’s time yesterday and being 3 tenths off the Sauber’s time today, it’s very likely Ferrari haven’t yet got on top of their qualifying pace and hence Alonso’s down beat demure when asked about the car.

I mean judging from last year, Perez’s strengths aren’t over one lap so if he was still faster (with relatively the same fuel load seeing as teams tend to employee staff from other teams) then I think Ferrari need more one lap speed.

As for consistency during this testing, no one comes close to Lotus. I don’t think any of their drivers has finished the day lower than P3 and the biggest positive being a happy and relaxed iceman for if the kimster is happy then all must be well.

No doubt about it, Mercedes has been the biggest surprise of this winter testing, it seems they’re ticking all the right boxes with reliability being the most important of all boxes.

Jenson looked good on the hard tyre but it appears the medium tyre is the one they can’t get working properly, so there maybe something there.

Meanwhile, there must be a little bit of worry at Red Bull for not only wasn’t Lewis’ time yesterday close to Vettel but the two Barcelona days Rosberg has set his fastest time on the same medium tyre as the Red Bull, he has finished ahead.

As for Sutil, as far as am concerned, the seat is his for the doubts by the Force India shareholders towards Jules’ talent remain a sticking point and thus why Sutil is at Barcelona in the first place.

In this instance experience and not necessarily speed will win the day.

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