Fernando Alonso dominated proceedings at Barcelona on Thursday, posting fastest times to continually edge his rivals
In action for the third successive day at the Spanish track, the Ferrari driver first hit the front with a 1:22.510 using the soft Pirelli tyres.
After just two flying laps he pitted before heading back out and lowering the benchmark to a 1:22.301. However, his next lap was a 1:24.129, highlighting the severe degradation of the Pirelli rubber.
Another qualifying-style run saw the Spaniard drop to a 1:22.192 before taking another 0.04s off his time. He finished his blitz on the timesheets with a 1:21.875 that he set just before the lunch break.
Nico Hulkenberg claimed second place with a 1:22.160 while Romain Grosjean was third, 0.028s further back. All three set their fastest times in the hour before lunch.
The field swapped over to longer runs in the afternoon with Grosjean leading the way in laps as the Lotus driver put in a marathon 119 laps in total. The Frenchman’s tally included a race simulation of 66 laps during which he pitted four times.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg came home with the fourth best time, finishing ahead of the Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas. Having used their old car at the Jerez test, Williams are trying to make up time in the FW35 and therefore split the day between their drivers.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was seventh fastest and the final driver to get within a second of Alonso’s pace-setting time. Adrian Sutil missed out by 0.002s.
The German was back in action for the first time since losing his Force India drive at the end of the 2011 season. Sutil was testing for his old team in the hope of beating Jules Bianchi to Force India’s second race seat. Sutil covered 78 laps with a best time of 1:22.877.
Meanwhile, the first - and only - red flag of the day came out late in the afternoon and belonged to Giedo van der Garde. Having just posted his fastest time of the day, a 1:26.177, the Caterham driver came to a halt at the exit of Turn Two.
01 Alonso Ferrari 1:21.875 97 laps
02 Hulkenberg Sauber 1:22.160 +0.285 91 laps
03 Grosjean Lotus 1:22.188 +0.313 119 laps
04 Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.611 +0.736 108 laps
05 Maldonado Williams 1:22.675 +0.800 79 laps
06 Bottas Williams 1:22.826 +0.951 68 laps
07 Button McLaren 1:22.840 +0.965 71 laps
08 Sutil Force India 1:22.877 +1.002 78 laps
09 Webber Red Bull 1:23.024 +1.149 108 laps
10 Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.366 +1.491 106 laps
11 Chilton Marussia 1:25.690 +3.815 57 laps
12 van der Garde Caterham 1:26.177 +4.302 93 laps