Jerez de la Frontera, 13 February –Over three thousand kilometres – 3,195.594 to be precise – in one week is a sound start to the work of developing the Maranello newborn, the F150th Italia. Fernando Alonso is well aware of that and happy about it, after ending the second of the four test sessions in the run up to the start of the 2011 World Championship.
“The best thing about these first two test sessions is definitely the reliability,” said the Spaniard when he met the media at the end of the day. “Both myself and Felipe have been able to always do at least one hundred laps a day, which is very positive. Our aim in these tests is to make the car as tough as possible and then, when we get to Bahrain, introduce some developments aimed at performance. As I often said recently, there is no point in looking at the time sheets, but it would be very surprising if any teams other than Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes are fighting for the wins. Red Bull ended last year with an advantage of around half a second over the others and it would be strange if they were not the strongest in Bahrain.”
The main task at this test was increasing understanding of the Pirelli tyres. “It is the biggest change of the year and there is still a lot of work to do to adapt the car set-up and driving style to these tyres,” said Fernando. “From what we have seen so far, we will need to run different strategies with more pit stops. We managed to do around forty laps, not all at one go, on the same set of tyres, but we know that in the much higher temperatures of Bahrain, the situation will be very different.”
The topic of overtaking and the moveable rear wing aimed at making it easier is still an especially hot topic. “We were able to try the adjustable wing in race conditions, but it is still too early to understand clearly if overtaking will be easier,” explained Fernando. “We need to see if the 600 metre limit set by the FIA is not too restrictive, but we know this situation is still able to be revised. From the little we could see, I think it will still be very difficult to pass a car with similar performance to your own. The system works well on our car: we never had any problems, not even under braking.” Fernando and Felipe will be on track again tomorrow: no, it’s not an extra day’s testing granted to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, but a day dedicated to promotional filming for the Scuderia’s partners. Development work on the new car will resume on Friday 18 at the Catalunya Circuit, on the outskirts of Barcelona: it will actually be the Spanish driver who will get the session underway, with Felipe taking over from him for Sunday and Monday.