Rain disrupts testing at Mugello

By on Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fernando Alonso

FIA - Fernando Alonso provide some cheer for the hardy spectators who braved a dark and wet Mugello for the first day of F1 testing. With rain disrupting the early running and ruining the afternoon session, Alonso’s late morning time of 1m22.444 was comfortably fastest of the first day.

Mark Webber went second quickest for Red Bull Racing and Jean-Eric Vergne third for Toro Rosso. Behind the top three many teams opted to give a run to third and reserve drivers. Jerome d’Ambrosio was fourth quickest for Lotus, Nico Rosberg fifth for Mercedes. Kamui Kobayashi came next for Sauber. Oliver Turvey was seventh for McLaren and Jules Bianchi eighth for Force India. Rodolfo Gonzalez was ninth for Caterham, Charles Pic tenth for Marussia and Valtteri Bottas eleventh for Williams.

Both McLaren and Mercedes switched their drivers for the afternoon, but owing to the incessant rain, Gary Paffett was restricted to a handful of laps and was half a minute off the pace while Michael Schumacher set no time. The only non-attendees were HRT, who opted out of the test, saying they preferred to concentrate on getting their new factory set up in Madrid. With the track wet many teams completed an installation lap when the pitlane opened and then headed to the garage to wait until the circuit dried.

Only by mid-morning with the dry patches appearing did testing begin in earnest. Among the most notable things on display were heavily revised bodywork on Kobayashi’s Sauber and a large sensor suite bolted to the back of Webber’s RB8. Approaching lunch Jean-Eric Vergne was quickest, with Alonso and Rosberg right behind him. All three men had also stopped out on track at various times, Vergne causing the first red flag, spinning off on the still-wet track. Alonso managed to go fastest before coming to a halt. He had completed 38 laps.

Little running occurred in the afternoon as the rain increased. Eventually the session was red-flagged as the cloud cover made it impossible for the medical helicopter to operate, and while things cleared up a little later on and the track went green again, there was little additional running, Alonso stayed top, having completed 46 laps. “It’s a shame about the rain, which complicated the running of this first day of testing and a shame for the spectators who deserved to see more of a show,” said Alonso. “We had a pretty busy work programme, but we only managed to get through a part of it. Therefore, it’s impossible to give a serious evaluation, especially as we did so little dry running. I can only say that, for me, it was a pleasure to be driving at this track again: the first and only other time was back in 2001, when I was testing for Minardi. It’s a spectacular track and it would be nice to be able to race on it!”

Alonso’s view was echoed by second-placed Webber: “Obviously, the weather wasn’t great today, so we didn’t get to do much running in the dry. Really, we only got one decent run on the slicks. Then it rained after lunch and with limited sets of wets available, you can’t do that much. We’re hoping for better over the next couple of days.

“It’s an important test. We have a lot of information to gather and, while today didn’t quite work out as expected, I’m optimistic that over the course of the next few days we’ll get the information we need. I have to say this is a fantastic track. It’s very challenging for the driver and very quick. I don’t know if we’ll ever race here in the future, you never know, but to see the crowd here today was very special. A lot of people came to watch and that’s great.”

Testing will resume in the morning for the second of three days. The forecast is for better weather.

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