Fernando Alonso claimed the fastest time of the day as the opening F1 group test of 2012 drew to a close at Jerez, but did so amid claims that the run was designed more to appease the tifosi
than develop the car.
The Spaniard completed fewer laps than any of his rivals as Ferrari waited for parts to be fitted to the F2012, but still managed a run where two of his timed passes proved to be better than anyone else would manage in eight hours of action on a sunny, but chilly, day in southern Spain.
With the Scuderia continuing to acquire data relating to the behaviour of its new machine, Alonso completed a lot of laps at either a constant speed or to a predefined procedure as he compared various set-up configurations.
At the end of just 39 laps, the double world champion's best effort stood at 1min 18.877secs, some way off the 1min 17.6secs benchmark established by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg on day three, and also behind Romain Grosjean's best for Lotus on the same day. Having admitted that there are still issues with the car that need to be ironed out, however, Alonso's performance hints at a low fuel run aimed at heading off early criticism - and pressure - in the Italian press.
More importantly, Ferrari was able to log nearly 1200km with the combination of Alonso and Felipe Massa behind the wheel, giving it valuable data with which to continue fine-tuning the car.
Toro Rosso continued its solid start to the 'winter' season, with rookie Jean-Eric Vergne claiming second spot on the timesheets. The Frenchman continued to acclimatise to his new surroundings, but posted a solid 1min 19.597secs to keep the Faenza team ahead of its rivals.
“A good second day for me as we worked through everything on our work plan and completed a lot of kilometres," Vergne reported, "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."
Vergne's effort, STR's best of the week, was enough to keep it ahead of sister team Red Bull Racing, although the British-based outfit will be quick to point to the electrical issue that stranded world champion Sebastian Vettel in the pits for all but two installation laps in the morning.
The German returned to the track after the relevant part was replaced and the engine changed as a precautionary measure, and then completed another 48 laps as he worked both through RBR's planned programme and up the order.