Fernando Alonso surprised a few people by coming out on top of the times on day one of the latest Formula One test in southern Spain, finishing the day ahead of representatives from both Williams and McLaren.

The day began damp before warm sunshine gradually dried the track, and Alonso ended the day almost a tenth clear of nearest challenger Alex Wurz as he ran the hybrid Renault for the first time. He is slated to conduct all three days of running at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, with an array of 'team-mates' joining in over the rest of the test. Alonso's 63 laps with the latest suspension set-up on his car passed without incident, and the team was satisfied with the progress made on the revised 2002 car/engine package.

He was joined for the day by Jarno Trulli, who ran throughout with a standard 2002 combination fitted with several development parts intended for competitive introduction next season. The Italian ended the day at the opposite end of the times, clocking the sixth best lap, 1.6secs adrift of Alonso.

Wurz was less fortunate than either Renault runner, although he ultimately overcame mechanical problems to end the day second overall in the first of the two McLarens on track. Team-mate on this occasion was Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, who took fourth spot in 1min 22.462secs. Wurz managed to complete 53 tours, with Raikkonen covering 53.

Between the two 'silver arrows', Ralf Schumacher began another intensive session for Williams, covering 79 laps in the lead FW24-BMW as he focused on systems checks and a brake evaluation. The total was the second highest of the day, behind Jaguar rookie - and former Williams tester - Antonio Pizzonia, and led to some productive results for the team.

Schumacher was joined on day one by regular tester Marc Gene, who concentrated on the new BMW P83 engine, but also found time to share his team-mate's workload. The Spaniard lapped seventh quickest of the eight cars present, two seconds off Schumacher's pace.

Pizzonia was joined by Mark Webber in the Jaguar pit, as the four primary Michelin teams enjoyed a session devoid of Bridgestone rivals. The Brazilian completed a session-high 86 laps en route to the fifth fastest time of the day, as Jaguar again ran its new gearbox and engine configuration, but his Australian partner managed just 22 as he again succumbed to mechanical maladies on the latest Cosworth V10 and parked the R3C out on track.

Leading performances (12 December):

Fernando Alonso Renault-Renault 1min 21.777secs 63 lapsAlex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1min 21.872secs 53 lapsRalf Schumacher Williams-BMW 1min 21.876secs 79 lapsKimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 22.462secs 35 lapsAntonio Pizzonia Jaguar-Cosworth 1min 23.046secs 86 lapsJarno Trulli Renault-Renault 1min 23.391secs 50 lapsMarc Gene Williams-BMW 1min 23.821secs 57 lapsMark Webber Jaguar-Cosworth 1min 24.297secs 22 laps

[All cars on Michelin tyres]

 

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