Mugello day one - Alonso heads rain-hit test session 01 May 2012
Ferraris Fernando Alonso topped the timesheets on Tuesday, after a wet first day of testing at Mugello. Alonso was the only driver to go quicker than 1m 23s at the Italian track, clocking a lap of 1m 22.444s during a brief hiatus between showers in the morning. The Spaniards best put him over a second clear of Red Bulls Mark Webber.
The changeable conditions - and frequent red flags - rendered any meaningful development work difficult. Whilst Alonso covered 46 laps in the F2012, second-placed Webber completed just 24 in the RB8.
Its a shame about the rain, which complicated the running of this first day of testing and a shame for the spectators who deserved to see more of a show, said Alonso of the crowd of 15,000 fans in the grandstands. We had a pretty busy work programme, but we only managed to get through a part of it.
"Therefore, its impossible to give a serious evaluation, especially as we did so little dry running. I can only say that, for me, it was a pleasure to be driving at this track again: the first and only other time was back in 2001, when I was testing for Minardi. Its a spectacular track and it would be nice to be able to race on it!
Although Red Bull reworked Webbers programme as a result of the rain, the Australian did manage to test a number of aerodynamic and mechanical development parts.
Obviously, the weather wasnt great today, so we didnt get to do much running in the dry, he said. Really, we only got one decent run on the slicks. Were hoping for better over the next couple of days. We have a lot of information to gather and, while today didnt quite work out as expected, Im optimistic that over the course of the next few days well get the information we need.
Toro Rossos Jean-Eric Vergne was third fastest, ahead of Lotus third driver Jerome DAmbrosio, who was sampling the E20 for the first time. Vergne completed 32 laps in the STR7 and will continue to test on Wednesday.
The car felt fine for the few dry laps I completed, he explained. But from a technical point of view, there is not much to say, because although we have a full programme to work through, the rain meant we will have to wait until tomorrow to start assessing some of the new elements we have brought here.
DAmbrosio was just as disappointed by the conditions. Its a real shame weve been limited by the weather today in terms of what we could achieve, but we had known for a few days that rain was forecast so its not a big shock, said the Belgian. We managed to complete 20 laps in both wet and dry conditions which gives me a good knowledge of the car and will help me be a better asset to the team with this experience.
Lotus racer Romain Grosjean will take charge of the E20 over the remaining two days of the test. Although team mate Kimi Raikkonen had been set to run for one day, the team have opted to stick with just one driver so it can establish a consistent baseline.
At Mercedes Nico Rosberg finished in fifth, after covering 49 laps, ahead of the sixth-placed Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi. Rosbergs team mate Michael Schumacher had been due to test in the afternoon, but did not set a time from the five laps he completed.
"It was a good session for me this morning and a positive start to our testing programme, said Rosberg. It's nice to see that we have some new parts for the car and that the on-going process of in-season developments is working well. We were able to learn some things in the wet conditions this morning which is always useful, and we picked up a few lessons."
Kobayashi, meanwhile, was charged with evaluating Sauber's new aero package, which included a new front wing, rear bodywork and diffuser. He managed to carry out some base-line running on intermediate tyres and also a comparison test of the new bodywork on a set of dry medium tyres. He will test again on Wednesday.
Test drivers Oliver Turvey and Gary Paffett were in action for McLaren. Turvey covered 30 laps and took the seventh slot, but Paffett was hit by the afternoon's torrential rain and only managed four laps and finished down in 12th.
Force India reserve Jules Bianchi was eighth quickest, whilst GP2 driver Rodolfo Gonzalez was in action for Caterham, finishing in ninth after completing 35 laps.
"Despite the weather, which was obviously frustrating this afternoon, I've had a good day, said Gonzalez. Obviously I'd have preferred a lot more dry running, but today wasn't about setting the fastest times I could, it was more about making sure I ran to the plan we'd set with the engineers, not making any mistakes, and continuing to learn as much as I could.
Charles Pic occupied the 10th spot on the timesheets for Marussia, ahead of Williams reserve Valtteri Bottas in 11th.
The rain has rather intervened with our plans today and it goes without saying that we would have been a lot happier had we been able to knuckle down to our full planned programme," said Marussia team principal John Booth. "Nonetheless, we have seen encouraging early signs from the new aero developments and we have some data to start working with."
Williams' chief operations engineer Mark Gillan added: "Unfortunately our programme was compromised by the rain today, which at one stage was heavy enough to red flag the session. Valtteri drove well in what were very difficult conditions. Despite this limited running we managed to successfully complete a number of our planned test items."
Testing continues at Mugello on Wednesday, when the weather forecast suggests much drier conditions will be in evidence.
Unofficial Tuesday test times from Mugello:
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:22.444, 46 Laps
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.648, 24 Laps
3. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.891, 32 Laps
4 Jerome DAmbrosio, Lotus, 1:24.048, 40 Laps
5. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.100, 49 Laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:24.736, 48 Laps
7. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:25.303, 30 Laps
8. Jules Bianchi, Force India, 1:25.475, 19 Laps
9. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Caterham, 1:27.197, 35 Laps
10. Charles Pic, Marussia, 1:27.359, 45 Laps
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:29.179, 28 Laps
12. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:50.898, 4 Laps
13. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, no time, 5 Laps
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