Alonso Leads Third Day In Barcelona


BARCELONA, Spain – Local hero Fernando Alonso topped the time sheets on day three of this week’s pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Thursday.

The Spaniard – behind the wheel of Ferrari’s new F138 for a third consecutive day – set his best time on a short run in the morning session with soft-compound tires.

Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg clocked the second-quickest time of the day and, like Alonso, did it on a short run before lunch when his C32 was fitted with soft tires.

Marginally slower than Hulkenberg was Romain Grosjean in Lotus’s E21. The Frenchman also set his best time in the morning before completing a 66 lap, four-pit-stop race simulation in the afternoon. His total of 119 laps was the most by any driver on Thursday.

Mercedes continued to show promising pace with Nico Rosberg claiming the fourth-quickest time of the day, ahead of Pastor Maldonado in the Williams. The Venezuelan driver was behind the wheel of the FW35 in the morning before handing driving duties over to team mate Valtteri Bottas after lunch. Between them the duo registered 147 laps – the highest tally of any team for the day.

Jenson Button was seventh fastest for McLaren as the team undertook mechanical set-up work and evaluation of tyres in the morning and concentrated on longer runs with simulated pit stops in the afternoon.

Adrian Sutil clocked the eighth-quickest time of the day on his return to a Formula One cockpit with Force India. The German, who is pushing for the second race seat with the team, completed 78 laps in the VJM06.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Marussia’s Max Chilton occupied positions nine through 11, with Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde rounding out the runners in 12th.