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Jerez day four - Alonso and Ferrari lead fray on final day 10 Feb 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 E20 running aero vis paint.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7 pushed back in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain, Friday, 10 February 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain, Thursday, 9 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain, Thursday, 9 February 2012

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso ended this week’s pre-season test at Jerez as Friday’s fastest runner. Alonso’s best, a 1m 18.877s set on Pirelli’s soft tyre in the Italian team’s F2012, was seven-tenths of a second quicker than the second-placed Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, also on softs.

The Spaniard continued to gather data in the new Ferrari and comparing different configurations. He completed 39 laps to bring the F2012’s total mileage to 1195.56 kilometres, while Vergne covered 80 laps in the STR7.

“A good second day for me as we worked through everything on our work plan and completed a lot of kilometres,” said Vergne. “After making some adjustments, I feel more comfortable in the car and I can also get an understanding of the effect of the set-up changes that we tried and they seem to have moved us forward. A positive day, so now I’m looking forward to the second test session.”

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took the third spot on the timesheets, as he set his best time on the medium Pirellis, despite completing only two installation laps in the morning session due to an engine related electrical issue with his RB8. The relevant part was replaced, but concern that the issue may have caused damage to the engine led to a precautionary engine change ahead of the afternoon.

“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made, I think we managed to get a lot done,” said the world champion. “Of course, this morning was a bit of a setback but these things happen. Something like this is simply part of testing, this is the reason why we are here. Of course we would like to get more laps done, but that can't be changed now.”

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest after a trouble-free second day in the Woking team’s new MP4-27, while Lotus’s Romain Grosjean - whose best Thursday time remained the fastest lap of week - finished the day fifth after covering 95 laps in the E20.

“I’m really enjoying being in the car even though it is hard work,” said Grosjean. “So far my fitness has been good, my neck’s not too bad, but we’ll see how it feels tomorrow! I think everyone will benefit from next week away from the circuit so we can reflect on the data then go to Barcelona with some new parts for the car. I can’t wait.”

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi ended sixth in the Swiss team’s C31. After working on set-up, aero comparisons and a tyre evaluation in the morning, a hydraulic leak in the afternoon prompted a two-hour delay. But thanks to some swift work from the team’s mechanics he made it back out on track to up his tally for the day to 76 laps.

“If I look at the whole picture I am happy with the first test,” explained the Japanese driver. “For sure we have found the right direction to go in. The car didn’t surprise us with any big issues, which allowed us to work on improvements straight away. We lost track time due to small problems and I want to thank the mechanics for all their work. Today especially they did a great job to get me out on track again.”

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg took the VJM05 to seventh as he finally got his first taste of his 2012 challenger. The German had been due on track on Thursday, but an enforced wait for spare parts after tester Jules Bianchi’s crash kept him out of the cockpit.

“A busy first day in the car and good to get so many laps under my belt,” said Hulkenberg. “It was my first time in the new car so I concentrated on getting comfortable and up to speed. The long runs were useful for that and it also allowed me to start understanding the new tyres. There is still a massive amount to learn and lots of data to look at, but it feels like we have a good baseline to develop from and I’m pleased with how the day went.”

Williams’ Bruno Senna and Caterham’s Jarno Trulli completed the timesheets in eighth and ninth places. They proved to be the most busiest during the day’s running, covering 125 laps and 117 laps respectively.

“We had a very productive day, with Bruno successfully completing a full race simulation this morning and performance development testing during the afternoon,” commented Mark Gillan, Williams’ chief operations engineer. “On the whole this has been a good first test for the FW34 and we have learnt a great deal about the new car. I'd like to thank the whole team for their massive effort this week.”

It was Trulli’s first time in the team’s new CT01 - and the first time he’d used KERS - so he was pleased with his day. “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 set-ups 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. I hadn’t used KERS before, and despite the extra buttons it means on the wheel, it’s pretty simple to get used to it quickly and I think we’ll see the benefits of that more and more as we keep learning how to get the most out of it.”

With the Jerez test now over, the teams will head back to their factories before reconvening for the second pre-season test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya from February 21-24.

Unofficial Friday test times from Jerez:
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:18.877, 39 Laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:19.597, 80 Laps
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:19.606, 50 Laps
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.640, 86 Laps
5. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:19.729, 95 Laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:19.834, 76 Laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:19.977, 90 Laps
8. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:20.132, 125 Laps
9. Jarno Trulli, Caterham, 1:22.198, 117 Laps

Unofficial aggregate test times from Jerez:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes*, 1:17.613, 174 Laps
2. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:18.419, 212 Laps
3. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes*, 1:18.561, 173 Laps
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:18.877, 106 Laps
5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:19.184, 150 Laps
6. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:19.297, 146 Laps
7. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.464, 166 Laps
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:19.587, 157 Laps
9. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:19.597, 159 Laps
10. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:19.670, 190 Laps
11. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:19.770, 154 Laps
12. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:19.772, 170 Laps
13. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:19.834, 182 Laps
14. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:19.977, 90 Laps
15. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:20.132, 250 Laps
16. Jules Bianchi, Force India, 1:20.221, 48 Laps
17. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.454, 164 Laps
18. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:20.688, 135 Laps
19. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:21.197, 122 Laps
20. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:21.518, 157 Laps
21. Pedro de la Rosa, HRT*, 1:22.128, 108 Laps
22. Jarno Trulli, Caterham, 1:22.198, 117 Laps
23. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:23.324, 74 Laps
* 2011 car

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