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Alonso fastest on opening day of Silverstone test

12 Jul 2016

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso set the pace on the opening day of testing at Silverstone on Tuesday, with afternoon rain preventing anyone improving on their morning lap times.

The two-time world champion lapped his Honda-powered MP4-31 in 1m 31.290s, which left him 1.543s ahead of Mercedes-Benz Junior driver Esteban Ocon, who clocked up an impressive 123 laps on his debut behind the wheel of the world champions’ F1 W07 Hybrid.

“It took me a few runs to get used to it, as driving a Formula One car is still new to me - especially here at Silverstone as it has a few high-speed corners,” said DTM star Ocon, who has previously tested with Renault and Force India. “But, at the end, I was really close to the limit, so that was a really good feeling.”

Alex Lynn was third fastest for Williams, just ahead of Ferrari academy driver Charles Leclerc, who got his first Formula One outing for the Scuderia just four days on from his very first taste of F1 machinery with Haas during opening practice for the British Grand Prix.

“Driving a Ferrari is always an incredible experience,” said the 18-year-old from Monaco. “I felt very comfortable in the car. This morning we did some aero work, while in the afternoon, we had a problem with an old power unit, so we didn't do so much running, especially as the weather wasn't that good. All in all, I'm very happy with my day.”

Just behind Leclerc in the times was Russian youngster Nikita Mazepin, making his F1 test bow as Force India’s development driver.

“Jumping from a Formula Three car into a Formula One, there are hundreds of surprises, but the biggest have been the amount of downforce and the amount of speed you can carry through corners, and how great the change of direction feels,” commented Mazepin.

“The team has done a really good job to help me get acclimatised to the car and I already feel pretty comfortable. It’s also been good to work with the whole team and get to know all the mechanics and engineers better. I still have lots to learn, but it’s been good so far and I am looking forward to being back in the car tomorrow.”

Fellow debutant Santino Ferrucci was sixth for Haas, the American teenager surpassing the 300-kilometre requirement necessary for obtaining an FIA Superlicense, in his first outing as the new team’s development driver.

GP2 stars Sergey Sirotkin and Pierre Gasly occupied positions 10 and 11 on the timesheet for Renault and Red Bull respectively. Gasly, who missed most of the morning session due to an electronics issue, also briefly sampled the halo cockpit protection device on his RB12.

“It was quite tricky today because in some places it was really raining hard, out of Turn 7 and around the back of the track, and then on the main straight it was quite dry so you really need to adapt quickly to the conditions,” said the Red Bull junior driver of his afternoon running.

“For me it was really good training because you really need to analyse the conditions and try to be as fast as possible. It wasn’t an easy day. As for the halo device, I was a bit surprised, as it doesn’t change that much. For sure it looks different, but from the inside of the car it doesn’t change much.”

Pascal Wehrlein, meanwhile, contributed to Pirelli’s ongoing 2017 tyre development programme by working exclusively on prototype rubber in a 2014-spec Mercedes.

This week's two-day test at Silverstone concludes on Wednesday.

You can follow minute-by-minute timing updates on the official F1 App - go to 'Results and Standings' and click 'Test'.


Unofficial Tuesday test times from Silverstone
POS DRIVER TEAM BEST LAP GAP LAPS
1 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:31.290   105
2 Esteban Ocon Mercedes 1:32.833 1.543 123
3 Alex Lynn Williams 1:34.433 3.143 54
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:34.446 3.156 19
5 Nikita Mazepin Force India 1:34.521 3.231 35
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:34.643 3.353 91
7 Santino Ferrucci Haas 1:34.866 3.576 55
8 Pascal Wehrlein (PIRELLI) Mercedes * 1:34.982 3.692 48
9 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:35.631 4.341 64
10 Sergey Sirotkin Renault 1:36.575 5.285 48
11 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1:43.891 12.601 52

* 2014-spec car