Fernando Alonso was the third driver to top the unofficial Jerez timesheets in the space of four days in another boost to the hopes of all F1 fans looking for a close-fought and exciting season.
Renault’s double world champion had to grapple with showers and windy conditions to lay down a fastest lap time of 1:19.945 – despite being buffeted around the track on Renault’s final test day before Barcelona.
Second was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, taking over from team-mate Felipe Massa, who put in a fastest lap of 1:20.250 while working on setup and distance testing.
Third was BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld on 1:20.520 while conducting a varied programme that included running the car on fumes to get the relevant telemetry readings.
Fourth was Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, building on a strong performance earlier in the week by team-mate Timo Glock, the driver who managed to top the timesheets on two successive days. Trulli put in a fastest lap of 1:20.540, leaving him fractionally behind Heidfeld.
In fifth place was Red Bull’s Mark Webber on 1:20.894 and in sixth place Williams race driver Kazui Nakajima on 1:20.948.
But the real story was at the back of the field with recently-crowned World Champion Lewis Hamilton the second-last-placed driver on 1:21.302. Only Force India’s Adrian Sutil was slower, with a fastest lap time of 1:21.302.
He suffered problems fitting some new suspension parts and this heightened speculation that McLaren may be experiencing problems with its 2009 aerodynamics, although it is one of the few teams that is committed to running the KERS performance boost system.
McLaren said of the test: “Lewis returned to the cockpit to continue the development and set-up programme that had been successfully started at the previous Jerez test.
“A delay to fit new parts to the rear suspension caused Lewis to miss out on most of the morning’s running – when the track was at its fastest – but he resumed after lunch.
“The presence of a blustery wind and a sudden shower prompted a brief spin in the afternoon but Lewis stayed on-track and later declared himself pleased with the team’s progress.
“With the focus now shifting towards the MP4-24’s mechanical set-up, the car proved one of the fastest over a long run and has given the team plenty of useful information as it works to prepare for the first race of the season later this month.”
Test times day four
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:19.945 (129 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:20.250 (104 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:20.520 0.270 (98 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:20.540 (131 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:20.894 (107 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:20.948 (83 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:21.302 (70 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India: 1:21.411 (79 laps)