Barcelona test: McLaren with it all to do as Fernando Alonso accident ends running
Just 20 laps for McLaren after Alonso crashes MP4-30; Spaniard airlifted to hospital but uninjured; Mercedes run long and set eye-catching pace on medium tyres; Lotus again fastest on supersofts
By James Galloway in Barcelona
Last Updated: 16/03/15 2:26pm
McLaren-Honda head into next week’s final Barcelona test with all it all to do after running into yet more problems on a dramatic final day of the first week of action at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Repeat problems with a seal on the car’s KERS system through the first three days had already left the team rooted to the bottom of the mileage charts but the hope had been that Day Four would prove more fruitful.
However, while McLaren sat out the first two hours of the session while the revised part was fitted to the MP4-30, their day lasted just 20 laps thereafter before Fernando Alonso crashed coming out of the fast turn three just before lunch. The car’s right-hand side struck the inside wall and Alonso was taken to the on-site medical centre for checks after the G-Force warning light was activated.
Although conscious and talking to doctors on his arrival at the centre, Alonso was airlifted to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure. McLaren later confirmed that the two-time world champion was uninjured, although no details have yet emerged as to what caused the crash. The Spaniard will stay in hospital overnight for observation.
The accident also brought a premature end to the team’s Day Four programme and meant they completed fewer than 600km all week – more than three times less than Mercedes managed, for instance.
Indeed, with just four days of pre-season testing still to go before the first race in Australia on March 15, it was Mercedes who ended the week in ominous fashion as Nico Rosberg flew late on on the medium tyres.
While it was their new engine customers Lotus who set the outright pace for the third time in four days, the returning Romain Grosjean set the week’s best effort of 1:24.067 on the grippiest supersoft tyres, whereas Rosberg’s late 1:24.321 effort was on the mediums – the compound two steps harder in Pirelli’s range.
Predictably, Mercedes also impressed for miles with the team once again leading the way with 129 laps, despite Rosberg 'doing a Vettel' and spinning off on cold tyres early in the day.
Red Bull took third on the times with Daniil Kvyat, although his best soft-tyre lap was six tenths slower than Rosberg’s one on mediums.
"The steps we are making are good, encouraging, and there is potential but time will tell how big," the Russian said.
"Regardless of the lap times of the other teams, we have to aim for an improvement. We are always aiming like that and trying to improve our lap times. Hopefully we are going to make it."
After limited running in the morning, Felipe Nasr took fourth for Sauber, while Williams' focus shifted away from pitstop practice and onto race simulations - Valtteri Bottas ending up just shy of Rosberg's lap count on 129, although the FW37 did stop on track in the afternoon.
On a day which featured six red flags, Carlos Sainz caused one of them when he crashed his Toro Rosso at turn three, the youngster the second Spaniard to visit the medical centre during the course of the day.
“The important thing is I’m okay, it was quite a hard accident on turn three,” he told Sky Sports News HQ. “Today there were very high winds which didn’t make our life very easy. It was very inconsistent.
“Unfortunately on one of my long runs with the hard tyre – which is obviously not very grippy here – I lost the car in snap oversteer, went into the wall and damaged the car quite badly."
Meanwhile, it was a low-key end to the week for Ferrari as Sebastian Vettel finished only seventh in the order on 1:26.3 after several lengthy stints in the garage.
Barcelona Day Four timesheet
1. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:24.067, 111 laps
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.321, 131 laps
3. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:24.941, 104 laps
4. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:24.956, 73 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:25.345, 129 laps
6. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:25.604, 88 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:26.312, 76 laps
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:26.591 36 laps
9. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:27.956, 20 laps