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Fernando excels

Barcelona: Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso kept the home fans happy with the fastest time in Formula One’s pre-season testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.

The Spaniard lapped the circuit with a best time of 1:21.875 seconds, the fastest of the week so far, which he set on the soft tyre in the morning before most teams focused on race simulations.

Thursday was the double champion’s final day in the F138 car this week, after having his first run in it only on Tuesday, with Brazilian Felipe Massa testing on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton’s fastest time in qualifying at the circuit in last year’s Spanish Grand Prix was 1:21.707 while Alonso, who ended the season runner-up to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, clocked 1:22.302.

“We tried various aerodynamic configurations and for the first time, we made some set-up changes to get a good understanding of tyre behaviour and degradation,” said Alonso, who will be back in the car for next week’s final test in Barcelona.

“With every change we made, the car reacted as I expected... Once again this year, the tyres will be one of the crucial aspects to manage. They are softer and quicker.”