Fernando Alonso finished the third day of the Barcelona test at the top of the timesheets as he wrapped up his testing programme this week with Ferrari.
Despite very cool conditions throughout the first four hours of running, Alonso set a best time of 1:21.875 as he tried out the soft compound Pirelli tyres for the first time. Ferrari said that understanding the softs was its priority for the morning but admitted it was unsure how reliable the data would be in the cool conditions. In the afternoon he appeared to be running heavier fuel and completed a series of medium-length runs. He will hand the F138 over to Felipe Massa tomorrow.
Nico Hulkenberg was second quickest in the Sauber as he too ran the soft tyres, ending the day less than 0.3s slower than Alonso. Once again Sauber was testing its version of a drag reduction device (DRD) which was then removed from the car later in the morning before its focus shifted to longer runs in the afternoon.
Romain Grosjean set the third fastest time on his first day back in the cockpit of the Lotus this week. He clocked a 1:22.188 in the morning before focusing on a race simulation in the afternoon. He made four tyre changes during his 66-lap race distance, with the first one coming after just seven laps on the soft tyre on heavy fuel. Nico Rosberg was fourth fastest after a slow start to the day, but increased his running in the afternoon with a series of longer runs that appeared to be on a medium to low fuel load.
Pastor Maldonado was fifth fastest after a busy morning in which he completed a race simulation before handing over to team-mate Valtteri Bottas at lunch. Bottas got within a couple of tenths of Maldonado's best time before he too completed a race simulation that was eventually cut short late in the day by a red flag. The Williams appeared to be kinder on its tyres than its rivals, with Maldonado making just three stops on his race run.
Jenson Button finished the session seventh fastest after a slow start in the morning. By the end of the day he had completed 71 laps but will be back in the car on Friday for more running.
Adrian Sutil returned to action for the first time since 2011 as he set about trying to impress Force India as he vies for the final spot on the 2013 grid with Jules Bianchi. He completed 78 laps over the course of the day and continued Force India's programme by focusing on fairly short runs aimed at honing the VJM06's set-up. The team said lap time comparisons between Sutil and Bianchi are of little relevance this week, but for the record he set a 1:22.877, 1.002s off Alonso's best time of the day.
Mark Webber was ninth fastest on his return to the Red Bull cockpit. In the afternoon he also focused on a race simulation but he was caught out by the sole red flag caused by Giedo van der Garde's Caterham stopping on track. Webber will back in the car on Friday to continue his work.
1 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1:21.875, 97 laps
2 Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) 1:22.160, 91 laps
3 Roman Grosjean (Lotus) 1:22.188, 119 laps
4 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:22.611, 107 laps
5 Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1:22.675, 79 laps
6 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:22.826, 67 laps
7 Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:22.840, 71 laps
8 Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1:22.877, 78 laps
9 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:23.024, 108 laps
10 Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1:23.366, 106 laps
11 Max Chilton (Marussia) 1:25.690, 57 laps
12 Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) 1:26.117, 93 laps