Fernando Alonso says 2014 cars are still fun to drive despite relative go-slow speed
Spaniard lapped Jerez ten seconds slower than he did a decade ago
By Pete Gill at Jerez
Last Updated: 30/01/14 10:30pm
As he tried out Ferrari's new F14 T charger for the first time, Alonso's fastest time - good enough to claim fifth on the timesheets - was almost ten seconds slower than his personal best at the Spanish circuit.
Having topped the order in February 2005 with a lap of 1:15.732, Alonso was still fifth quickest on Thursday with a relatively-pedestrian 1:25.495 as the field continued their preparations for the new season in cars that are running considerably reduced power in comparison to some of their predecessors.
Yet the Spaniard has shrugged off the discrepancy, insisting that the sensation of driving flat-out and pushing a car to its limits still feels the same no matter the actual speed experienced.
"It doesn't matter how fast you go, as long as you're on the limit. I drove here in the 1:16s in 2004. Today, I was ten seconds slower than ten years ago," Alonso reflected.
"Physically, it is easier than Formula 1 has been - there are less G-Forces, less speed around corners. But do I feel more or less emotion driving these cars? I feel the same. The car is still fun to drive, there is no big difference in style to last year."
The Spaniard's relationship with new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will be a running theme throughout the season, with every nuance and interaction between the pair set to be forensically scrutinised by a press pack ready to pounce on any hint of friction. No wonder, then, that Alonso was at pains to depict the pair as being in close harmony as he revealed they engaged in a 'bonding session' at Ferrari's Maranello base earlier this month.
"I worked with Kimi for a couple of days - half fun, half work," the two-time World Champion disclosed. "We are doing whatever Ferrari ask us to do and [the data from] every lap Kimi did is on my computer."
Alonso will stay in the car for the fourth and final day in Jerez on Friday after setting down on his first run of the year despite a brief stoppage when the F14 T crawled to a halt on track just before lunchtime.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we have a very big potential to make progress and that's encouraging," he added ahead of a season in which he make his fifth attempt to win the World Championship for Ferrari.
Laps completed so far at Jerez:
Mercedes - 177 laps.
Ferrari - 136 laps.
McLaren - 135 laps.
Red Bull - 14 laps.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.