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Jerez day four - Alonso returns 17 Dec 2005

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 13-16 December 2005. World ©  Sutton

Fernando Alonso was back in the cockpit on Friday for 2005’s final day of dry-weather testing. As Renault team mate Franck Montagny set the pace, the world champion was third fastest as he ran with simulated V8 power for the first time.

For Alonso, who has not driven a Formula One car since winning the Chinese Grand Prix in October, his 98 laps of Jerez allowed him to better understand the adjustments the new power level demands in terms of driving style and set-up, and to get a feel for 2006 tyre development.

"It was a positive day for me, everything went well,” he said afterwards. “You can feel the power loss straight away, but you get used to it quickly and in any case, everybody is dealing with the same thing. I don't believe it makes it any easier to drive an F1 car: once you are really on the limit, it is always difficult, whether you are talking about an F3 car or an F1 car, a V10 engine or a V8. We set competitive lap times with our simulated set-up, and I am confident that we will be doing the same with the R26 next year."

Montagny, meanwhile, worked on a set-up programme in the morning before conducting a brake evaluation programme. It was the Frenchman’s final dry-weather test with Renault - he will be at the wheel of the R25 for one last time for a special wet session with Michelin on Saturday - and he was pleased to go out on a high.

"I had a busy day to finish the session, and I am pleased to finish quickest,” he said. “The final laps today were quite an unusual feeling: I wanted to really enjoy them to the maximum, and I managed to do that. I have had two very good years with the team, and established some very good relationships. Now, for me, it is time to turn a new page: I want to be racing again, and I hope I can make that happen next year."

Sandwiched between the Renaults was the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, the German alternating behind the wheel of two cars - an F2005 fitted with a restricted V10 and an F2004 M, running a V8 engine. He completed a total of 114 laps; 30 with the F2004 M and 84 with the F2005.

“I am happy to be back driving again and I am very pleased with these two days of testing at Jerez, which went off without any particular problems,” commented Schumacher. “It shows the team has worked well over the past few weeks, as has Bridgestone on the tyre front. I can’t wait to be back on track when testing resumes. I would like to wish everyone a good Christmas and a happy 2006!”

Narain Karthikeyan was again at the wheel for Williams, the Indian finishing around a second down on Nico Rosberg in his third day of testing with the team since his debut last week.

Completing Friday’s line-up, Jenson Button joined Anthony Davidson at Honda, both in the team’s V8 Concept car. Button’s early runs were spent finding a good balance in the car before he began looking at various chassis set-up options. A couple of minor issues and a gearbox change interrupted his running although he did complete 86 laps in total. Davidson concentrated on a tyre evaluation on longer runs in the morning session, followed by a chassis set-up programme. Button will stay on for Saturday’s wet-weather tyre test with Michelin.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.334
2. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.576
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.741
4. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:18.902
5. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:18.944
6. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:19.634
7. Narain Karthikeyan, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:20.872