Connect to share and comment
Former two-time world champion Fernando Alonso clocked the best time on the third day of pre-season Formula One testing at the Catalunya circuit on Thursday.
The Spaniard had sat out the first four-day session in Jerez earlier in February, but he continued to demonstrate he had lost none of his sharpness over the winter by taking his Ferrari to a best time of 1min 21.875sec off a total of 97 laps.
Nico Hulkenberg, in a Sauber, was second fastest with 1min 22.160sec with French driver Romain Grosjean, in a Lotus, laying down the third best time of 1min 22.188sec off 119 laps.
Alonso, the runner-up to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel last season, improved his time from Tuesday by a second and was just a fraction off the week's best time of 1min 21.848sec set by Sergio Perez in the McLaren on Wednesday.
"The track was a lot colder than yesterday, especially in the morning. That made it more difficult to find the right level of grip," said Alonso.
"Tyre management will be crucial this season; they are softer and faster, but they also degrade a lot faster."
Sutil, out of the sport for 15 months, improved by a second the best Force India time of the week so far set by Paul di Resta.
"This team knows me well because I spent six years with them," said Sutil.
"I wanted to show them that I am still quick and that was very important. I can sleep peacefully. I have done all I can to get back into F1. I don't know who is the favourite for the drive, it's up to Force India to decide."
The new season opens in Melbourne, Australia on March 17.
Thursday's best times:
1. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) 1:21.875 (97 laps), 2. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:22.160 (91), 3. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault) 1:22.188 (119), 4. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:22.611 (108), 5. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault) 1:22.675 (79), 6. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Renault) 1:22.826 (68), 7. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:22.840 (71), 8. Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes) 1:22.877 (78), 9. Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault) 1:23.024 (108), 10. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:23.366 (106), 11. Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia-Cosworth) 1:25.690 (57), 12. Giedo van der Garde (NED/Caterham-Renault) 1:26.177 (93)