Alonso fastest on wet first day
Frustrating day for the teams in Italy
Last Updated: May 3, 2012 1:12pm
Day One of F1's first in-season test since 2008 proved to be something of a damp squib at Mugello with running severely restricted by early-morning rain and an afternoon downpour.
""Finito" the first day of testing. Lots of rain in the afternoon but we manage to test something..;)) ! "
Fernando Alonso Quotes of the week
With the Italian circuit experiencing the sort of conditions that have recently produced Britain's wettest drought in a century, productive running was at a bare minimum throughout the day and dry running limited to a solitary hour before lunch.
The afternoon session was then effectively washed out by a torrential downpour that began during the lunch-hour and carried on with increasing intensity for the majority of the afternoon. With an hour to go, both Michael Schumacher and McLaren's Gary Paffett ventured out, but neither driver set a timed lap in the gloom as the bulk of the field opted to remain in the dry sanctuary of their garages.
"I was literally able just go out to check if it made sense to run - which it did not - and at least I could show the spectators who were waiting in the rain a running car for some short moments," Schumacher, who had replaced Nico Rosberg as Mercedes' on-duty driver at lunchtime, reported afterwards.
McLaren also opted to end the day early, declaring 'the wet weather, coupled with circuit closures due to the low visibility to have rendered meaningful running pointless.'
Fernando Alonso thus ended the day top of the timesheets, having set a lap of 1:22.44 - by far the quickest of the day - just before the lunchbreak. Yet appearances can be deceptive and despite Alonso's table-topping lap, the lack of running will have been of particular disappointment to Ferrari given their plan to introduce a series of upgrades to the misbehaving F2012.
"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," commented Fernando at the close play. "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!"
Although Alonso did return to the track just before the close, a few practice starts were the sum of his afternoon's work with the session red-flagged for several hours on account of the safety helicopter being unable to lift-off in the stormy conditions.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg at least put a brave face on matters, assuring Sky Sports News that the one-hour period of dry running had provided useful data, but the lack of track-time will have been keenly felt by the raft of test drivers who had arrived in Italy hoping to enjoy an extended - and rare - spell behind the wheel of a 2012 F1 charger.
"Can't learn anything in these conditions," tweeted an evidently-frustrated Paffett, although the light at the end of a dim and dark day in Tuscany is that better conditions are expected on Wednesday and Thursday.
01. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:22.444
02. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:23.648 + 1.204
03. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.891 + 1.447
04. Jerome d'Ambrosio Lotus 1:24.048 + 1.604
05. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.100 + 1.656
06. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:24.736 + 2.292
07. Oliver Turvey McLaren 1:25.303 + 2.859
08. Jules Bianchi Force India 1:25.475 + 3.031
09. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham 1:27.197 + 4.753
10. Charles Pic Marussia 1:27.359 + 4.915
11. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:29.179 + 6.735
12. Gary Paffett McLaren 1:50.898 + 28.454
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time.