Alonso keeps Ferrari on top in Valencia

Fernando Alonso made the dream start to his Ferrari career after setting a blistering time in the third day of testing in Valencia.

Alonso was urged on by thousands of his loyal fans who flocked into the Circuit Ricardo Tormo from the early hours of the morning. Fortunately they would not be left disappointed as, in dominating fashion; the double world champion rewarded his supporters with a crushing time of 1:11.470 within the first couple of hours of the session.

However Alonso was quick to downplay his pace and stated that there is still along way to go before the season opener in Bahrain.

“It’s just the first day and as I said now at least for me the priority was getting completely comfortable.” He told Autosport, “There are many things to discover for me, many things to learn.

“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix. We are at that period of winter testing.

“We need to make the car very, very strong and until Barcelona or the last test at Jerez I think we will not look for the performance.”

Alonso was followed by Pedro de la Rosa who survived an early on-track altercation with the Williams of Nico Hulkenburg to continue Sauber s strong run. The C29 has shown great potential throughout the three-day test in the hands of de la Rosa and his team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi.

Michael Schumacher saw his testing schedule cut short thanks to a small hydraulic problem in the afternoon. Despite this, the seven-times champion still set the third fastest time of the day and was said to be happy with his day s work.

“I’m thinking we will be competitive, but whether this is a winning car straightaway or not, that’s another story,” he told Autosport, on reflection of what he had experienced during the three-day test.

“For me that’s not so important – it’s a long season. We need to be there and taking points from the beginning.

“I wouldn’t expect to be winning right from the beginning. It wasn’t something that I was aiming for and expecting to be the case. But we need to be strong enough on development.”

Jenson Button also used today s session to debut for McLaren. Although the Briton finished the day nearly 1.5 seconds adrift of Alonso s Ferrari, he does not believe that McLaren have yet shown their true potential and is expecting much more from the MP4-25 in Jerez.

Valencia Day 3 Times:

Pos Driver      Team       Time     Laps Completed
01  Alonso      Ferrari    1:11.470 127 laps
02  de la Rosa  Sauber     1:12.094 80 laps
03  Schumacher  Mercedes   1:12.438 82 laps
04  Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:12.576 97 laps
05  Button      McLaren    1:12.951 82 laps
06  Petrov      Renault    1:13.097 75 laps
07  Hulkenberg  Williams   1:13.669 126 laps