With more than 35,000 fans packing the Valencia circuit, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso
ensured that the large Spanish contingent went home happy after setting the pace on the final day of F1 testing.
Alonso's first outing in the F10 had generated so much interest that Ferrari
reported a 4 kilometre traffic jam outside the circuit as fans attempted to catch a glimpse of the Spaniard in his new machine, and the double champion didn't disappoint as he set the quickest time of the week on his debut for the Scuderia
The former Renault
man was the driver to beat throughout the final day and worked on set-up and handling of the car en-route to a time of 1min 11.470secs – three-tenths of a second quicker than team-mate Felipe Massa
had managed on Tuesday.
Alonso was followed on the times by Pedro de la Rosa
as the new BMW
Sauber C29 continued to impress, with his best time just failing to dip below the 1min 12sec marker. That came despite a collision on track during the morning with the Williams
of Nico Hulkenberg, which cost the team around 90 minutes as the damaged car was repaired.
“We are quite satisfied with the first test,” technical director Willy Rampf said. “We did exactly 1001 km in total. As well as being reliable, it was important to see that the car responded to changes in the way we expected. The drivers' comments on the car basically were in line with that, which also helps the team to work in the right direction.
“In the morning we lost around one and a half hours of track time because of an incident with another car. We had to change the floor, the front wing and the engine cover and to prioritise our programme afterwards. But still it was a good day on the track. Again we were lucky with the weather, which gave us very good and consistent track conditions.”
Behind de la Rosa, Michael Schumacher had chance to complete his first full day of running at the wheel of the Mercedes GP W01, having had some track time during the opening day of the test on Monday. The multiple champion worked on set-up early in the day before switching to a series of longer runs, although his programme was brought to an early end by a hydraulic issue on the car.
Schumacher's third quickest time on the final day was good enough for seventh overall.
"I'm very happy to have been back in a Formula One car this week,” he said. “We had a short run on Monday and then almost a full day today which has been good. The experience has been very positive and the car is running smoothly with just a small hydraulic leak which stopped us slightly early today. The main focus is on reliability and doing as many laps as we can so we're not too worried about looking at the lap times right now.
“It's a new challenge and a new experience for me this year but knowing Ross so well and working with him again has made it very easy and I feel at home in the team already. I'm feeling fresh and motivated and very positive about the season ahead. I can't wait to be back in the car to continue the programme in Jerez next week."