Barcelona second pre-season test Test day three

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By: Matt Beer, Sam Tremayne

Summary

Status: Stopped
That's all for Thursday's running, keep checking AUTOSPORT for all the news from the paddock tonight, and we'll be back tomorrow morning at 8am GMT for the final day's action.
Final lap count for the day: Alonso 97, Hulkenberg 91, Grosjean 119, Rosberg 107, Maldonado 79, Bottas 67, Button 71, Sutil 78, Webber 108, Vergne 106, Chilton 57, van der Garde 93
Vergne, Chilton and van der Garde - cause of the day's sole red flag - complete the list.
Returnee Sutil is eighth on the list between Button and Webber.
Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Rosberg are next up, then the two Williams drivers.
Alonso will head off (Massa is in the car tomorrow) with the fastest time thanks to his morning 1m21.875s.
There's the chequered flag, Barcelona day three is done.
Bottas, Webber and Hulkenberg are lapping in 1m30s, 1m28s and 1m29s respectivey.
Rosberg is fastest out there and did a new personal best middle sector, but his ultimate time was 1.8s off his best.
Looks like the order will stand going into the final minute.
Hulkenberg, Bottas, Sutil, Webber, Vergne and Chilton are all straight back out.
Green flag and the session is back underway for a little over six minutes of running.
The truck is setting off the wrong way round the track and back towards the pit entrance.
Now the Caterham is swinging its way onto the back of the truck and the marshals and course cars are preparing to leave the scene.
The Caterham is now successfully coverd by a green sheet and the lorry is waiting.
And it's for the Caterham of van der Garde. Moments after setting his fastest time he's stopped on the outside on the entry to Turn 3.
Our first red flag of the day, and with just 15 minutes of the afternoon remaining.
Van der Garde shaves a few tenths of his previous best but stays 12th.
Fernando Alonso Ferrari F1 2013

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F1 2013


Hi AUTOSPORT. How do you reckon the Ferrari is this year? Last year testing it was said to be nervous under breaking and lack grip during cornering?
Carlos from Norway

Edd Straw: "We can say for certain that the car is far better than it was at this stage last year. In 2012, watching the Ferrari drivers trying to haul the car from the exit of Turn 2 and into the long right-hander at Turn 3 was painful at times, but now it's a much more well-balanced car.

"I suspect they still need to take another step with harnessing the exhaust blowing effect to increase downforce though. But there's time for that pre-Melbourne."
@Lotus_F1Team: "That's our 'race' done, thank you @RGrosjean, you can have a rest now."
A dash of purple as Alonso, on his outlap, goes fastest in the third sector speed trap.
Talking of Grosjean, his race simulation has just ended 66 laps, and four pitstops, to the good.
How high do you rate Grosjean ? Could he outscore Kimi this year? @MT_Louis

Edd Straw: "Grosjean is seriously quick. Quick enough that if he can harness that speed, he can be a world champion.

"He was fast enough to beat Kimi 10-9 in qualifying last year and he has the potential to be the quicker Lotus driver this year. If he can improve in terms of his ability to assess risk and cut out he accidents, his confidence will rebuild and he will take a big stride towards fulfilling that potential. If the mistakes continue, then it's probably time to cut him lose at the end of the year. A clean start to the year is essential."
Grosjean is out on mediums, as is Mark Webber who is 44 laps into his own programme. Only Hulkenberg and van der Garde (softs) and Sutil and Rosberg (hards) are on different compounds.
Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 2013

Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 2013


Fourth pitstop of the run for Grosjean, and he's back out. Pastor Maldonado clocked up 66 laps en route to victory in last year's grand prix here. Grosjean is currently on 60.
What do you make of McLaren's testing form? There does not seem to be much in the way of soundbites coming from them. Do you think they are looking in good shape or struggling a bit?
Kevin Pryke

Edd Straw: "All looks pretty good for McLaren. There's little in the way of flashy headline laptimes or snappy soundbites coming from the McLaren camp, but there have been some eye-catching lap times in conditions that are far from optimum.

"The car also looks very honest and true on track. This doesn't mean McLaren is ahead, but it would be a surprise if it wasn't in the mix."
@ToroRossoSpy: "Could this be the final hour of testing this week? Supposed to rain "gatos e perros" tomorrow. That's Spanish for cats and dogs."

Rain was also possible for this afternoon, but has held off so far. Hopefully we can get lucky tomorrow too.
Or maybe not. Vergne comes round in a 1m23.683s, which is only three tenths slower than his morning best.
With everyone on long runs, Nico Rosberg is the fastest man out on circuit. The Mercedes man, on his final afternoon of the second test, is lapping in the mid 1m28s, a pace only Grosjean is matching.
We're now debating whether a lion could gain accreditation for F1 testing. It's been an odd afternoon.
Jules Bianchi Force India F1 2013

Jules Bianchi Force India F1 2013


Who would you pick, Bianchi or Sutil?
Amulya Singh

Edd Straw: "There are a lot of reasons for picking Adrian Sutil. He's an experienced, proven performer and you know exactly what you get with him. But I'd go for Bianchi. He's got a lot of ability. There are question marks over his mental strength, but we've seen Sutil's full potential - that of a pretty good, dependable grand prix driver - and Bianchi could be better. It's a higher risk approach, but the potential reward is greater."
It's not the most typical question we've had, but we liked it (especially as we were given options, that always makes life easier).

If a hungry lion walked into the media centre, what would you do?

A) Run around waving your arms around then leap through the window
B) Feed one of your colleagues to the lion
C) Give the lion a hug
James Smith

Edd Straw: "First, we would report it in AUTOSPORT Live (of course). Second, I would attempt to sell it a subscription to AUTOSPORT Plus. Thirdly, I would ensure that it is not, in fact, Lewis Hamilton's dog. Finally, I would go for option c and try to feed a colleague to them. A photographer, if possible."
A bit of disruption in the pitlane as the McLaren men were waiting for Button to come in, only for Giedo van der Garde to come through their box en route to the Caterham garage. Having to jump out the way didn't go down too well with some.
Mark Webber comes round for the 25th lap of his run, while Grosjean is still out and is on lap 45.
Nico Hulkenberg Force India F1 2013

Nico Hulkenberg Force India F1 2013


Roger Coleman has asked what the theoretical best time of today is. AUTOSPORT Live can handle that - taking Grosjean's first sector, Alonso's second and Hulkenberg's third, the ultimate best would be a 1m21.695s, not that much faster than Alonso.
Meanwhile Grosjean, on mediums, pits. A brief check and he resumes his race simulation.

On the pitwall (or at least on Twitter) Lotus plays pit stop bingo.

@Lotus_F1Team: "Two fat ladies, lap 88, pit stop time."
Jean-Eric Vergne heads out on softs.
Rosberg had been out on a long run of his own, managing 17 laps on mediums.
Everyone but Rosberg, Maldonado, Vergne and Chilton on track.
Should F1 run young/reserve drivers on Monday's after certain races to give them experience as well as giving teams a little extra testing time?
Craig Stevanato

Edd Straw: "My feeling is that there definitely needs to be greater provision for young drivers (and they should be young, for using 30-something test drivers like Gary Paffett is not what the young driver tests are intended for) to get track time. Tests the Monday after a race are appealing, with the teams already there, but the problem with that are the costs involved and the fact that teams are already flaying tired personnel during a packed season.

"Personally, I'd love to see a way to incorporate young driver running into a race weekend, although that raises the possibility of spare cars being used, which is not desirable. To do that, the extra running must be incentivised.

"There's no easy answer to this, but as Red Bull has shown, nurturing young drivers is hugely beneficial."