Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jerez Day Four: Ferrari Lays Fears to Rest

After three days spent setting mediocre times and even having some reliability issues, Ferrari silenced their doubters on Friday by setting the fastest time on the fourth and final day of testing at the Spanish track. Fernando Alonso set at time of 1:18.877 at the beginning of the day, before an electrical problem forced the Spaniard to sit out for several hours. While Ferrari is unlikely to be thrilled after losing crucial track time, the F2012’s apparent change in form must have surely given them some cause to smile…regardless of what the team may say.

Fernando Alonso was upbeat in the wake of his encouraging final day, stating “We arrived in Jerez thinking one idea of the car and maybe it was not exactly like that, but we worked around and we found the performance there and we found the happiness or the level of confidence of driving this car now in day three and day four. Day one in Barcelona will be a much better starting point.” He, however, insisted on Ferrari’s official website that the times that were set during the test meant nothing. “Yesterday (Thursday) we worked mainly with the hard tyres and the others ran the softs and we were seventh. Today we fitted the softs and maybe the others did not and we are first. That’s all it is. We got on with our job, even if today and yesterday we had some reliability problems we could have done without which prevented us from doing everything we would have wanted.”

Indeed, getting on with the job at hand seems to be the theme right now in Maranello. The team arrived back at the factory yesterday and immediately set to work analysing data collected from a test that Ferrari’s website admitted must have seemed “a bit schizophrenic” from the outside. “There was no reason to bandy about predictions of catastrophe which was the case up to Thursday evening, nor was there any cause for elation after the Spaniard set the fastest time yesterday morning. In summary, it’s a case of staying calm and concentrated.”

With only eight days remaining until the Barcelona test begins, Ferrari will no doubt be working both night and day in an attempt to get an advantage over rivals such as Red Bull. Although the Milton-Keynes based team showed that their latest challenger, the RB8, will surely be a championship contender, the World Champion’s Jerez test was not perfect reliability wise. On the final day the team showed that it is also working out the kinks in their single-seater when Sebastian Vettel was forced to sit out much of the morning due to an electrical problem.

Until February 21st, when Formula 1’s heavyweights return to Spain once more, I will cling to the memory of Fernando Alonso’s time on Friday. While it may be true that it does not signify anything, it certainly helped put some of this tifosa’s fears to bed!

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