Fernando Alonso enjoyed a run on home soil to post the fastest time on the third day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya

Fernando Alonso has delighted his local fans by posting the fastest time on the penultimate day of the second 2013 pre-season Formula 1 test session.

The Spaniard posted a quick-fire lap time of 1:21.875 on soft tyres to outpace Sauber’s Nico Hülkenberg by 0.285 seconds.

Temperatures were even colder than Wednesday’s chilly conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya, although this didn’t appear to be an obstacle for Alonso and Hülkenberg, who both clocked their quickest times of the day in the morning’s proceedings.

Third-fastest was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. The Frenchman amassed an impressive 119 laps in the E21, making up for the lost track time suffered by team-mate Kimi Räikkönen over the preceding two days.

Nico Rosberg was another driver to complete a high-mileage programme en route to finishing the day fourth-fastest. The Mercedes driver completed 108 tours of the Spanish circuit, finishing fractions quicker than the Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas, who split their day’s running in the FW35.

McLaren had a slow start to their day when Jenson Button was confined to the garage for an hour after his initial installation laps while the team investigated an unspecified problem. Once out on track, the former World Champion finished up sixth-quickest overall, just under a second slower than Alonso’s best effort.

Button finished just four-hundredths faster than Adrian Sutil, who had his first outing in F1 machinery for more than a year. The German was given a day behind the wheel of Force India’s VJM06 as the team pitted him against 2012 reserve driver Jules Bianchi to determine who would get the call-up to be Paul di Resta’s team-mate.

Sutil showed promise, tallying 78 laps in the Mercedes powered car, although he had a couple of wild moments early on while he dusted off the cobwebs after such a long time on the sidelines.

Mark Webber had his first outing of the week in the Red Bull Racing RB9, posting consist lap times on the Medium Pirelli tyres as he set about completing a four pit-stop race simulation. He finished three-tenths faster than Toro Rosso’s Jean-Éric Vergne, who completed a similar programme in the STR8.

Once again, the two minnow teams were at the bottom of the timesheets and comfortably slower than the rest of the field. Again the Marussia was quicker than the Caterham, with Max Chilton out-pacing Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham by half a second.

Van der Garde caused the day’s only red flag, bringing proceedings to a close ten minutes before the 5:00pm shutdown when he stopped at the exit of Turn 2.

2013 Barcelona Pre-Season Test – Day 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Laps Tyre
1. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:21.875 97 S
2. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 + 0.285 91 S
3. Romain Grosjean FIN Lotus3 F1 Renault E21 + 0.313 119 M
4. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1W04 + 0.736 108 S
5. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 + 0.800 79 S
6. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 + 0.951 68 H
7. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 + 0.965 71 S
8. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 + 1.002 78 S
9. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 + 1.149 108 M
10. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 + 1.491 106 S
11. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 + 3.815 58 S
12. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 + 4.302 93 S

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.