Fernando Alonso has posted the quickest overall time in a rain-interrupted opening day of Formula 1 testing at the Mugello circuit, with teams frustrated at the lack of dry-weather running to test the host of upgrades they will have bought to try out.
The Italian circuit was hit with overnight rain, and the track was still soaked when it opened for business at 9:00am local time.
Full-wet and intermediate Pirelli tyres were the only option, with a few drivers eventually opting for slick tyres as the lunch break loomed. A string of laps late in the morning was enough to give Alonso top spot, some 1.2 seconds quicker than second-fastest driver Mark Webber, and a further two-tenths ahead of Jean-Éric Vergne.
Any hopes the teams had of getting some serious dry-weather running went with the sunshine, as the wet weather rolled in again in the afternoon. So bad were the conditions that the medical helicopter couldn’t get airborne, bringing the session to a temporary close.
Webber – his Red Bull RB8 adorned with a host of sensors – ended up second-fastest, edging out Toro Rosso driver Vergne, who caused the first of two red-flag periods.
The other was caused by Nico Rosberg – fifth-quickest at the end of the day – who ground to a halt at Turn 4, with Alonso doing likewise just seconds later a few corners around. Rosberg ran in the morning, while team-mate Michael Schumacher could only complete four laps before the red flags were unfurled to curtail the session.
Lotus F1 test driver Jérôme d’Ambrosio finished the day fourth-fastest in his first F1 outing since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, two spots ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, who took his Sauber sixth-fastest.
McLaren was the only team to split its running between its two reserve drivers today – it also being the only team not to run its race drivers for the entire test session – with Oliver Turvey getting the better weather conditions to go seventh-fastest, having spent much of the morning in the garage while he waited for conditions to improve. Fellow test driver Gary Paffett (fresh from his win at the DTM season-opener at Hockenheim) was caught out with the afternoon downpour and had to cut his running short.
Ferrari reserve driver Jules Bianchi had another outing in Force India’s VJM05 challenger, finishing the session eighth-fastest, just under two-tenths adrift of Turvey’s best effort.
Venezuelan pay-driver Rodolfo González had another outing in an F1 cockpit, getting a run in the Caterham for the first day of action, he finished ninth-fastest, just ahead of Marussia new-boy Charles Pic.
Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas brought up the rear in the Renault-powered FW34, over six seconds off the pace.
Action did eventually get going again in the final hour, although few drivers attempted to attempt to post timed laps.
The forecasters are predicting better weather for the second day of running on Wednesday. A host of driver changes will also take place: Felipe Massa will have his sole day of running before he hands the Ferrari back to Alonso on Thursday, while Sebastian Vettel will take over from Mark Webber in the afternoon.
Lotus, meanwhile, has announced that Kimi Räikkönen will not take any part in this one and only in-season test that’s open to the field’s established drivers. Instead, the team will run Romain Grosjean on Wednesday and Thursday, it says, to give it a consistent baseline to work with as it tries its new development parts over the next two days.
2012 Mugello In-Season Test – Day 1 Test Times:
|1.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:22.444||46|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:23.648||+ 1.204||24|
|3.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:23.891||+ 1.447||32|
|4.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:24.048||+ 1.604||40|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:24.100||+ 1.656||49|
|6.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:24.736||+ 2.292||48|
|7.||Oliver Turvey||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:25.303||+ 2.859||30|
|8.||Jules Bianchi||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:25.475||+ 3.031||19|
|9.||Rodolfo González||Caterham Renault CT01||1:27.197||+ 4.753||35|
|10.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:27.359||+ 4.915||45|
|11.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW34||1:29.179||+ 6.735||28|
|12.||Gary Paffett||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:50.898||+ 28.454||4|
|13.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||no time||5|
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