Day four of pre-season testing in Jerez, Spain as it happened

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso sets the pace on the final day of the first Formula 1 pre-season test.

10 February 2012 Last updated at 16:41

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As it happened

  1. 1625: 

    All that's left for me to do is point you in the direction of Andrew Benson's report and thank each and every one of you for your contributions today. It's been a blast. I'll be back on 21 February to guide you through the test in Barcelona - where we will finally catch a glimpse of the new Mercedes - but until then, I bid you farewell. Adios!


    James Liddiard on Twitter: "Red Bull looking strong again, not so sure about McLaren and Ferrari. They'll be up there but looks like RB will dominate again."


    Jeremy Walker on Twitter: "You get a "bonus point" for the fastest lap on Saturday - in the form of Pole Position. Sunday is about strategy, not just raw speed."

  4. 1615: 

    So Fernando Alonso ensures Ferrari leave Jerez with something to smile about, but it was the Lotus of Romain Grosjean which clocked the quickest lap of the week on Thursday. A couple of teams, such as Caterham, will be sticking around in Jerez on Monday to do some filming. Teams are allowed 100km of running, using demo tyres, to carry out promotional filming, you see. For the rest, it's time to pack up and head back to the factory to decipher the data gathered from this week and then make the relevant tweaks. Then it's time to do it all over again in 11 days' time when the Circuit de Catalunya hosts the next four-day test.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Alonso holds on to best Friday time in Jerez, but Grosjean fastest 2012 car overall from Thursday and Red Bull still look ominously good."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "Testing is always hard to read, but my impression so far is that the the order at the top has not changed, with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari. But Lotus and Toro Rosso are both doing a good job and it looks like the midfield teams have closed up on the big three a little, and among themselves. Williams, in particular, appear to be back on the right track, judging by Bruno Senna's race simulation run on Friday. That could make for a good season - it keeps the top teams on their toes as they know that the smallest slip-up and they'll be behind other cars."


    Carl Heath on Twitter: "How about a bonus point for fastest lap? Tbh not sure, just thinking of ways to stop them slowing down for fuel saving so much."

  8. 1605: 

    This is how they finished on day four:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.877 36 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.597 80

    Sebastian Vettel 1:19.606 50

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:19.640 86

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.729 91

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:19.834 73

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:19.977 87

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:20.132 125

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:22.198 117

  9. 1600: 


  10. 1557: 

    Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi use the last few minutes to carry out some practice starts. And now Nico Hulkenberg joins the party.

  11. 1550: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is lapping in the 1m19s while Sebastian Vettel's latest lap is a 1m21.632. We can't read anything into it, mind as we don't know what fuel loads they are running. Lewis Hamilton heads out, but he's back in again within minutes as Fernando Alonso heads back out.

  12. 1545: 

    Fernando Alonso still leads the way with 15 minutes remaining, but he has completed the fewest number of laps today. At the other end of the scale, Bruno Senna has amassed 125 laps, the majority of those were before lunch, but has the second slowest time and is 1.255 seconds off the pace.


    Ferrari on Twitter: "Another run for Fernando, it can be the last one."

  14. 1540: 

    Fernando Alonso joins Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli and Nico Hulkenberg out on track with just 20 minutes remaining. Romain Grosjean completes an eight-lap run and then heads for the pits.


    From Chris: "Why do people want longer pit times? If I wanted to watch tyres being changed I would go stand outside my local car garage."


    From Anon: "Not sure about giving points for laps led. I don't like the idea that someone could potentially win the championship DURING a race. Refuelling sounds good though!"

  17. 1533: 

    Somebody in the McLaren camp is going to have an exotic ride out of Jerez tonight. There is one of the company's MP4-12C sportscars parked next to the McLaren hospitality area.


    Caterham on Twitter: "How's this for contrast - track temp is now 26\u00b0, air temp is 15\u00b0. Long may that last.... (yeah, right!)"

  19. 1529: 

    Fernando Alonso clocks a 1m25.659 on his first flying lap - that's around seven seconds slower than his quickest lap today. Kamui Kobayashi has managed to get out, too, as has Romain Grosjean who is sporting some hard Pirelli tyres.

  20. 1525: 

    How things stand with 35 minutes remaining:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.877 30 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.597 78

    Sebastian Vettel 1:19.606 38

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:19.640 74

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.729 73

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:19.834 60

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:19.977 76

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:20.132 125

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:22.198 99

  21. 1522: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    And we're clear to go racing once more people. Just over 30 minutes remaining on this final day of testing.


    Jonathon Clark on Twitter: "Reduced pit crew to 6/7, front jackman, lollipop man, 4 tyre men, (so only 2 at a time like nascar.) Pit times increased."


    Caterham on Twitter: "1 off the magic ton - 99 laps done & while the red flag's out Jarno's out of the car before we send him back out for whatever's left today."


    Sauber on Twitter: "The guys made it - the #C31 is ready again! However, with the word "Go" a red flag came out. #Kamui is waiting now for green light."


    Lotus on Twitter: "We're poised to head back to the track, but there's a red flag out for a stopped car.

  26. 1511: 

    It's our fourth red flag of the day and it's Bruno Senna in his Williams. Again.


    Colin Cunniffe on Twitter: "I dont think the points need changed at all. I would prefer getting rid of DRS and having real overtaking again."


    Lotus on Twitter: "Tyres back on car for another run, we've been chasing a pesky water leak. We know where it is and we have a solution for Barcelona."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery says the company are optimistic after four days of testing that its plan to spice up the racing by reducing the performance differential between the times is going to come off. The idea is that by reducing the performance difference between tyres, teams will have the option of doing one stop fewer in an attempt to beat a rival doing more stops. That was not possible last year because the usual 1.5-second margin between the two tyres available at each race meant there was no point doing one stop less, as drivers could not overcome the lap-time loss through less degradation."

  30. 1448: 

    Good news Sauber fans. We're hearing that the team have fixed the hydraulic leak on Kamui Kobayashi's car. "We are about to go out again," a team member said.


    Mark Hearn on Twitter: "I'd like to see points further down the field. The same points system as MotoGP? Smaller teams would be much more competitive."


    From Anon: "I like the sound of refuelling being reintroduced, but make it optional so cars can race but at the expense of an extra fuel stop if required. That will keep the strategists guessing!!"


    From Brad: "I enjoy the high speed pit stops we see now there is no refuelling. The tense few seconds when the front runners both come in to swap tyres is immense!"

  34. 1438: 

    Lewis Hamilton is in the pits after his long run on medium tyres. The Brit has managed 74 laps today, with a best time of 1m19.640, 0.763 seconds off the pace set by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.


    Williams on Twitter: "All ok here in Jerez, 106 laps completed so far today, 1:20.132 Bruno's current quickest, he's out on track now."


    Force India on Twitter: "Long runs underway for @NicoHulkenberg. It's all about getting him used to the car and giving him a feel for the 2012 tyre compounds."

  37. 1428: 

    While Lewis Hamilton is out on a long run, running in the 1m22s, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is putting the hammer down. He posts a 1m19.690s to rise up to fourth on the timesheets.

  38. 1423: 

    If anyone is wondering why Marussia, formerly Virgin, aren't here, it's because the team have decided to take the Mercedes route and spend more time working on their car. Timo Glock will return with the team for a third season alongside F1 debutant Charles Pic. The team have decided to run their 2011 car in the next test in Barcelona, which begins on 21 February, and then run the new MR01 in the third test, also in Barcelona, which starts on 1 March.


    Tom Farrell on Twitter: "I agree with the refuelling talk. It certainly works to change up things in IndyCar."


    Tom in London: "Current rules are good, but award points for qualifying, leading the race and fastest lap. Also award 25 points for each unused engine at the end of the season."

  41. 1415: 

    Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel play tag, with the former leaving the pits as the latter comes in.


    Sauber on Twitter: "A leak causes an awful lot of work now. Mechanics try hard. If we are very lucky #Kamui can go out again later #Jerez."

  43. 1410: 

    I've got bad news Sauber fans...

  44. 1406: 

    Bruno Senna is back out on track after he ran out of fuel this morning. That was planned of course, so the team can test the limits of the car. The Brazilian wastes no time in breaking the 100 lap barrier for the second successive day to prove that this Williams is impressively reliable at this stage of the season.


    Ferrari on Twitter: "One of the most common things done during this session is aero test: two more runs for Fernando after the long break."

  46. 1400: 

    Here's how they stand with two hours to go:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.877 26 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.597 56

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:19.640 58

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.729 52

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:19.834 59

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:19.977 60

    Sebastian Vettel 1:20.072 13

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:20.132 99

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:22.214 81


    From Ian in Chesham: "Agree with other comments regarding current rules providing good racing but I would love to see the return of refuelling, it doesn't sound right in f1 racing when you hear drivers being instructed to hold back to conserve fuel? This is racing, it should be flat out!"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "We're told by paddock sources that the Ferrari has been in the garage much of the day because a bunch of new parts - including a new exhaust system - arrived from Italy and are being fitted to the car."

  49. 1356: 

    Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is the first man out of the pits. The Spaniard spent much of the latter part of the morning in the garage and we've managed to find out why...

  50. 1355: 

    And we're clear to go racing once more...


    From Andy in Derby: "Hi, could you tell me if the engines they use in testing count towards the maximum they can use in a season?"

    No Andy, they don't count towards the team's allocation for the season.


    Sauber on Twitter: "Kamui had to stop on track - drop of hydraulic pressure."


    From Bobby: "Less down force so less turbulence so following a car is a massive advantage and give them slick tyres so still lots of grip. Also let teams pick what compounds they bring for each driver so the strategies are not all the same."


    Stuart Mumford on Twitter: "I think the current rules are giving good racing, and making the teams think about new stratagies. Part of me wants refueling though."


    Chris Cassettari on Twitter: "How about incorporating a Mario Kart twist?! Red Shells to disable the car in front, stars to go quicker, oil slicks!"

  56. 1343: 

    Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi has brought out our third red flag of the day.

  57. 1342: 

    There's some remarkable consistency from Lewis Hamilton at the moment. The 27-year-old is lapping in the high 1m21s with ease, but as he moves into double figures, in terms of laps, the times start to tail off inot the 1m22s.

  58. 1337: 

    Good news for Ferrari fans, too. Having spent the last couple of hours in the garage making tweaks, Fernando Alonso is back out on track. Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, completes an eight-lap run trouble free and heads for the pits.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery has been talking to the media about the fact there are less 'marbles' - bits of loose rubber - at this test than there were in Jerez at the start of last year. 'I have walked the track every night," Hembery said. 'They are still there, because we are still pushing on the wear levels. But maybe it is partly because we have reduced wear and a slight formulation change made to try reduce the marbles - or at least try and make them on the outside of the curves. The real issue last year was not so much the quantity of marbles, it was more where they were - in a straight line at the end of the straight. In racing you will see marbles anywhere you go, but normally they occur on the outer part of the curve, so they do not cause an issue of overtaking. I know that there are only 12 cars, but a lot of them are also doing double race distances, so you have to think in terms of overall quantity and it is quite representative. So there has been reduction (in marbles.) Certainly at the end of the straight you won't see those big lumps that we saw before.'"

  60. 1330: 

    After five-and-a-half hours, Sebastian Vettel finally sets a timed lap in his Red Bull. He posts a 1m20.072 which is certainly not earth-shattering, as it's only faster than Bruno Senna and Jarno Trulli, but it's data for the team all the same.

  61. 1325: 

    Jarno Trulli sets his fastest lap of the day in the Caterham with a 1m22.198 but he's still rooted to the bottom of the timesheets, one place behind Bruno Senna. Jean-Eric Vergne shows a flash of speed in the middle sector, going fastest of anybody, but ultimately fails to improve on his personal best.

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "As Lewis Hamilton headed out of the McLaren motorhome to the garage to resume testing after lunch, he was besieged by fans clamouring for an autograph. He looked cheerful enough as he prepared for his final afternoon in the car before the 10-day break ahead of the second test in Barcelona. As for me, I'm heading off to the airport to go back home. It's been a fascinating few days - I can't wait for the new season."

  63. 1320: 

    Red Bull fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Sebastian Vettel is back in the car and pulling out of the garage for only the third time today. Unfortunately for fans trackside, he goes round and pulls back in straight away.


    Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi on Twitter: "I am really happy to announce that I will be driving the 2012 Le Mans race with Toyota racing! Can't wait to be in the car!"


    The Doozer on Twitter: "Award a point for leading the race at any time, like in Nascar. Would shake field up around pit stops and change strategies."


    Sauber on Twitter: "Kamui is getting ready to rock again. Will leave the garage shortly."

  67. 1315: 

    The chat is good but I need you to keep your thoughts on regulation changes coming thick and fast. Tweet me using the hashtag #bbcf1 or contact me directly @lawrobarretto or text on 81111 (UK).

  68. 1307: 

    Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean are both on the track, lapping in the 1m21s. Jean Eric-Vergne has joined them, too, as he looks to add to the 41 laps he has already clocked up today.


    Hoose in Lincoln: "How about they finally stop tinkering with the rules for no reason?? We've just had two exciting seasons, new introductions have worked well, no need for change at the moment."


    Force India on Twitter: "@NicoHulkenberg will be doing some longer runs this afternoon, getting a feel for tyre compounds and running some set-up items."


    Rob Cureton on Twitter: "How about half race distance in one direction, stop, re-fuel, re-join grid in track position and go the other way round for part 2?"


    Oliver Hammond on Twitter: "I definitely think there should be a point or two going to the person who gets fastest lap of the race!"

  73. 1255: 

    So as we head into the afternoon session, here is how things stand:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.877 22 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.597 41

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:19.640 36

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.729 31

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:19.834 48

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:19.977 45

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:20.132 98

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:22.214 68

  74. 1250: 

    I'm back. Nothing major to report in my absence. Jarno Trulli and Romain Grosjean have been out and about but Fernando Alonso remains rooted to the top of the time sheets.

  75. 1225: 

    Aside from Kamui Kobayashi trundling round, the track has gone quiet. On that note, I'm going to dash off for a quick sarnie and a fresh mug of tea. Thanks for all your chat about what regulation changes you'd like to see. Let's have more of that when I return.


    From Anon: "Points for qualifying and then reverse the grid. Loads of overtaking, crazy strategies, real talent on show."


    Graham in Luton: "Forget refuelling, blue flag changes, sprinklers and everything else. Just get rid of the plank and let the cars use ground effect again. Let's go back to the 80's sparks."

  78. 1212: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    And we're back underway at Jerez with the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi the first man out on track. The Japanese driver has completed 41 laps, just five short of what team-mate Sergio Perez managed during the whole of Thursday.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "As I predicted earlier, people have been having a bit of a shot this morning. Bruno Senna has just done a 1:20.1 in the Williams after pitting during a race-simulation run and putting on soft tyres. He's stayed out after setting that time, so they seem to have a pretty good car. Fernando Alonso's 1:18.8 is pretty impressive - the second quickest time of the week behind Romain Grosjean's Lotus. Whether that is on 10, 20 or 30kg of fuel we don't know, but they clearly didn't want to go home embarrassed at the end of the week. The Ferrari can obviously do a lap time, but they still look like they're struggling to understand that car, which I'm a bit confused by seeing as the top teams have such powerful simulation tools these days."

  80. 1202: 

    Oh dear. Doesn't look like Bruno Senna will be getting his century of laps this morning. The Brazilian has stopped out on the track after doing a 70-lap run - a full race distance. You'd have to think he's probably run out of fuel.

  81. 1158: 

    Nico Hulkenberg has gone out to keep Bruno Senna company in his pursuit of 100 laps before lunch. Ah, bless.

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "The media centre is emptying on this final day of the test, but in terms of spectators this is by far the most popular day. Fernando Alonso's presence in the Ferrari has attracted thousands of fans and the grandstand opposite the pits is packed. The back of the track is quite busy, too. It's not just Alonso getting the support either. There's a big banner in support of Pedro de la Rosa - 'Go, Pedro, go, you will not race alone', and a union flag outside McLaren for Lewis Hamilton. It's warmed up a bit, but it's still biting if you're not in the sun."

  83. 1153: 

    In terms of track action, the only question at the moment is whether Bruno Senna will reach 100 laps before he has lunch. He's on 91 at the moment.

  84. 1147: 

    Bruno Senna completes his second 25-lap run of the day. He heads of the pits and then pops straight back out again to set his fastest time of the day - a 1m20.132 - which puts him seventh fastest out of eight.


    Caterham on Twitter: "Right - time for some lunch while a couple of electrical changes are made to Jarno's car. Should be back on track in about 40 minutes."


    Charlie Marshall on Twitter: "How about double the race length and driver change halfway through, more team work between drivers required."


    From Anon: "No blue flags? I think anyone who remembers wayward backmarkers in the 80s breaking up exciting battles for the lead won't go for that idea! I'll go for Monza-style wings everywhere (less downforce, but still somewhere for the sponsor's logo)."


    From Rupert: "Don't like the idea of scrapping blue flags, STR would let the Red Bulls straight through and hold up the other competitors!"


    From Anon: "Remove legislation on development. Let the teams create new tech that might one day find its way on road cars (active suspension, turbos, ABS all started in motorsport)"

  90. 1139: 

    There's still no sign of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel. Aside from a couple of installation laps this morning, the German has been stuck in the Red Bull garage while the team work on the car. More on that when we have it.

  91. 1132: 

    Lewis Hamilton is back out on track and goes round in 1m19.640s. It's an improvement, but the 27-year-old stays third. Elsewhere Bruno Senna is still circulating and has clocked up 76 laps already this morning. Talk about a dog with a bone.


    Dave in Essex: "Keep pit stops but only if the drivers change the wheels and fill up themselves! Make it more exciting by allowing random old people to drive down the pit-lane!"


    Claudia Holzer on Twitter: "Bring back the gravel! Make a mistake, and you're out- Most run off areas are far too forgiving. Also, get rid off the anti-stall!"


    Force India on Twitter: "Almost time for lunch in Jerez. A solid morning so far for @NicoHulkenberg as he gets comfortable in the car. 37 laps completed so far."

  95. 1125: 

    Here's a rundown of the fastest times:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.877 22 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.597 35

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:19.640 34

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.729 24

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:19.834 32

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:20.056 38

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:22.214 52

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:22.394 71


    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie on Twitter: "Both Ferrari and Red Bull in garages working on cars. Vettel only managed 2 laps so far, Alonso still top with 22 laps completed."


    Fota secretary general Oliver Weingarten on Twitter: "Email to attend Barcelona Fans' Forum 29 Feb 19.30 central Barca. Q&A w/reps from McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams, Caterham, HRT."


    StevieBob in Glasgow: "They say that semi-auto gears has reduced the challenge of Monaco for the drivers. Steering, paddle-shifting and furiously gesticulating at backmarkers would test the drivers again! Ban blue flags!"


    Caterham on Twitter: "Lap 41 & Jarno moves to 1.22.214. 44 laps so far today. Feedback: let's look at dialling out a bit of the understeer in high speed corners."

  100. 1110: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne has bolted on a set of soft tyres and closed the gap to pacesetter Fernando Alonso with a 1m19.597s - but he's still 0.720s adrift. Bruno Senna is clocking up the miles - he's completed 61 laps, the most of anybody - but he's bottom of the timesheets with a fastest time of 1m22.394s. Williams said on Thursday that they weren't, too fussed about the times, which is fortunate because Friday's times don't make great reading...


    Red Bull test driver Sebastian Buemi on Twitter: "2nd day in the simulator. Driving Barcelona this time!"


    Ferrari on Twitter: "We're working on the car to make some changes and fix some issues. It will take some more time before Fernando will be back on track."

  103. 1100: 

    While it's quiet on the track, I thought I'd update you on the situation at HRT who headed home after two days testing their 2011 machine. The Spanish squad were aiming to get their 2012 challenger ready to run at the next test in Barcelona, which starts on 21 February, however, the car only passed 14 of the 17 mandatory FIA crash tests. The new chassis itself was deemed legal, while the team claim the other failed tests were unsuccessful by "very a minor margin". As a result, the team need to manufacture new parts which means there won't be time to bolt them on and test them again before the next test. That means the team's drivers will only have the final four-day test, also in Barcelona, to get to grips with their new office before they touch down in Melbourne for round one in mid-March.


    From Anon: "Let's reduce aero by 50% and bring back wider slick tyres, more sliding and dramatic racing, yes please. Oh and yes let's reduce the pit crew by 50%."


    Daniel Probert on Twitter: "How about getting rid of pit stops entirely? The only time your allowed to pit is to retire, fix a puncture or because of rain."


    Mike Oxlade on Twitter: "I'm from the old school and would love to see less downforce and wider tyres to spice things up."

  107. 1043: 

    Caterham's Jarno Trulli and Williams' Bruno Senna are both out on track, but not troubling their personal best times. Romain Grosjean now joins them, as does Kamui Kobayashi who has been sat in the Sauber garage on what the team described as a "scheduled break."


    Tim Kemp on Twitter: "That blue flag idea is brilliant! But I must say I'm glad that lapped cars can pass the safety car again!"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "While we're on the subject of averages, some perspective on Fernando Alonso's attention grabbing 1:18.877 lap this morning. His average for that five-lap run, ignoring a slow lap after the initial fast one, was 1:19.699 - that is 0.3secs slower than Lotus driver Romain Grosjean's best single-run average on Thursday."

  110. 1036: 

    And he's not done yet...

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "We've promised to look beyond the headline lap times in testing to try to divine a little more of an idea about what's going on. As we mentioned on Thursday, whole-day lap-time averages can help with this as they wrinkle out the bumps. For what it's worth, of the top teams, it was that man Sebastian Vettel who had the best overall average on Thursday - with 1:22.275. Lewis Hamilton's McLaren was 0.284secs behind. Even Fernando Alonso - who did very few meaningful runs - was still only 0.573secs behind the Red Bull on what was clearly a difficult day for Ferrari. But the best average was by Lotus's Romain Grosjean, 0.173secs quicker than Vettel - which explains Hamilton's remarks about the car looking good. These numbers are still only the vaguest hint of form, but as BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson said to me yesterday, 'it all points somewhere'."

  112. 1032: 

    Our man Andrew Benson has been feverishly tapping away on his calculator again to give you lot an insight into what is going on behind the facade of the lap times...


    Brendan Goodjohn on Twitter: "How about getting rid of the blue flag rules and making lead-lap drivers actually have to work at the traffic, that'd help."

    Now that my friend is a super idea. It's that extra dimension, which would occur later in the race, that should keep drivers on their toes all the way to the flag. Not sure the top dogs will fancy it, though...

  114. 1025: 

    As promised, here's the current state of play:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.877 22 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.667 22

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:19.673 24

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.955 17

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:20.056 28

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:20.696 18

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:23.215 31

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:23.217 30

  115. 1021: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne is gets two practice starts in before heading out on track, just as Jarno Trulli brings his Caterham back to the garage. Fernando Alonso still leads the way, but Vergne shows good pace in his Toro Rosso with a personal best 1m19.673 to go third quickest. A rundown of the current standings to follow shortly...


    Carl Parker on Twitter: "No refuelling please, it ruined direct racing! Turbos instead of DRS, and half the number of people allowed to perform pitstops."


    Steve Huxtable on Twitter: "Bring back re-fuelling in Formula1, this created a much more strategic angle to the races and great to watch, especially with MISHAPS."

  118. 1015: 

    Looks like there's a split among you all in the debate as to whether Formula 1 should reintroduce refuelling...

  119. 1011: 

    A couple of you have been asking what drivers who aren't driving at the test. Well this is the state of play at Toro Rosso who tweet: "While Jean Eric [Vergne] drives, Dan [Ricciardo] has gone training this morning."


    Tim Kemp on Twitter: "Force India and Lotus are looking mighty impressive so far! Its a shame about Bianchi."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Apart from the predictable Red Bull, it is Lotus that have caught the eye so far in testing, with returning ex-world champion Kimi Raikkonen fastest on the first day and his team-mate Romain Grosjean the quickest 2012 car on Thursday. Grosjean, who is determined to make good on the poor impression he left in half a season with this team in 2009, is revelling in the E20, as the car is known. 'The car is good to drive,' he said. 'It is much more predictable (than last year's) and the handling is really good in the fast corners. You can really trust the car and push it to the limit and if you make a small mistake it's not a big issue and you are not going to spin hopefully. It's really what you want to have when you are in Formula 1. If you are not confident you are not getting those last tenths.'"

  122. 1000: 

    Romain Grosjean wastes little time accelerating to the track when the track reopens for business. The Lotus driver was impressive on Thursday, finishing fastest of the 2012 cars. The Frenchman posts a 1m22.595 to move up to sixth and is then joined by the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton who is running the medium compound tyres.


    From Bram in Nottingham: "A return to turbos definitely and definitely no refuelling! Do away with drs but have a turbo boost button."


    Stephen from Chesterfield: "Bring back refuelling, far more exciting than the 2 second stops of last season."


    Declan in High Wycombe: "I would love the return of manual gear changing. While I know it will never happen I think that would be the biggest challenge to give back to the drivers."


    Phil Price on Twitter: "Rule changes so far: Definitely bring mid-race re-fuelling back. More scope to gain (or lose) valuable seconds."

  127. 0955: 

    Our first red flag of the morning. There's a piece of bodywork down at Sito Pons, but a marshal wastes little time scurrying over to retrieve it before hopping back over the fence. Top work, son.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Well, well. Early the morning after Ferrari said they were 'not happy' with their new car, guess what? Fernando Alonso only goes and bangs in a one minute 19.289 seconds lap - miles quicker than anyone else so far today and a sniff faster than Sebastian Vettel managed in the Red Bull on Thursday. OK, it was on a three-lap run but so was Vettel's, although whle Alonso was on soft tyres I don't know what Vettel was using. None of it is directly comparable, of course, and Ferrari are still insisting they are not chasing performance. Was it aimed at boosting morale? Or is the car genuinely quite good after all? Certainly Lewis Hamilton believes it will be. 'Look at Ferrari,' he said on Thursday, 'I'm sure they have a fast car but they aren't showing any cards.' It's all a big game of poker at the moment. To emphasise that, Hamilton gets into the 19s, and Alonso promptly does a 18.877."

  129. 0952: 

    Fernando Alonso is back out on track and smashes his previous best with a 1m18.877s on soft tyres. Ferrari have a problem? What problem?


    From Jon W: "Paul di Resta has been the man of the week for me! 2nd fastest on tuesday and 100+ laps! Also a cracking time on wednesday despite only afternoon running. Cracking season ahead for him, I hope so!"


    Dominic Bottomley on Twitter: "RB & McL looking good so far, but it'll be be clearer once they complete longer runs and race distances."

  132. 0950: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne is one of two drivers making their debut this season - Marussia's Charles Pic is the other - so here's a little bit of info about him. The Frenchman, 21, has tested for Red Bull in the past and took part in practice for Toro Rosso three times this year. He finished runner-up in the Renault World Series last year and of all the drivers in Red Bull's young driver programme, the 21-year-old is considered to have the most potential. With a largely untested driver alongside him in the form of Daniel Ricciardo and the prospect of a promotion to the Red Bull team if he can show he's worthy, the opportunity is there. The question is, does he have the speed and talent to take it?


    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie on Twitter: "Jerez warming up. I am warming up too with a McLaren coffee."

  134. 0943: 

    Out on track, Nico Hulkenberg lowers his personal best to a 1m20.845 to remain third, but he soon deposed by the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne who gets clocks 1m20.707. The two continue circulating along with Lewis Hamilton, Bruno Senna and Jarno Trulli. Fernando Alonso's earlier time of 1m19.289s keeps him top of the pile, one second ahead of Hamilton.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Sebastian Vettel had his first experience on Thursday of the car with which he will shoot for a third consecutive world title this season. The Red Bull has looked pretty impressive so far, but Vettel would not really be drawn on its performance, beyond saying it 'feels fine, more or less what we expected' and predicting that the season 'should be very tight again, if not tighter than last year'. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton was more forthcoming. 'I think you can see the Red Bull looks quick,' he said, adding that he had been also been impressed with the new Lotus, which has been the fastest 2012 car on two of the three days so far.'"

  136. 0937: 

    No sign of Sebastian Vettel since he popped out for an installation run earlier this morning. The German was less than chatty when asked about the car's performance after his first day of running on Thursday. Over to you, Andrew...


    Phil B in Tamworth: "With all of the rule changes to car safety, performance and pit strategies over the last eight or so seasons, which one would you change back to how it used to be to improve race entertainment?"

    I would personally like to see a return to refuelling which added another dimension to a pit stop and race strategy. What does everybody else, think?

  138. 0930: 

    Lewis Hamilton is back out on track and sets about completing his first competitive lap time of the day. The 27-year-old completes a four-lap run with a best of 1m21.774 which sees the McLaren driver go fifth fastest, 2.485 seconds of the pace set by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.


    Caterham on Twitter: "Current air temp is 3\u00b0, track temp 7\u00b0... about the most essential piece of kit in the garage? The mega industrial sized gas heaters."


    Leelambs on Twitter: "Looking forward to this years season. If Seb doesn't dominate like last year & is thrown into the mix it will be a good yr for F1."


    Sander De Voogdt on Twitter: "Very impressed with Caterham. Doing lots of laps without any problems bodes well for their season."


    Ant on Twitter: "With Vettels's loss of grip, could the ban on exhaust blown diffusers be a field leveller? Force India & Lotus to challenge top 4?"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Bruno Senna was his usual happy, chatty self after his first experience of the new Williams. It is a critical season for the once-great team, attempting to recover from the worst season in their history. Senna said 'the team is confident we can achieve more with this car', but he said he himself would like some changes to make it less 'docile'. He said: 'It is nice to drive the car. It is very docile, so definitely if we can get it a bit more edgy, but without going over the edge, it will be a much faster car.'"

  144. 0922: 

    Jarno Trulli pulls into the pits which leaves the Williams of Bruno Senna alone out on track. Talking of the Brazilian, our man Andrew Benson says the Williams driver is feeling good after he got some good running under his belt on Thursday.

  145. 0920: 

    Jarno Trulli, who has the use of Kers for the first time, is finding a rhythm out on track, gradually reducing his lap time lap-by-lap and finishing his latest run with a 1m23.581s. Caterham chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne tweets: "Jarno completed first couple of runs on old tyres, using KERS for the first time on the last run."

  146. 0915: 

    With a little over an hour gone of testing, here is how things stand:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:19.289 12 laps

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:20.696 18

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:20.880 13

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:21.353 7

    Jarno Trulli Caterham 1:23.869 15

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:24.474 14

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:31.730 6

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:43.061 5

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "Force India are already up against it a bit following reserve driver Jules Bianchi's crash on his first lap on Thursday morning. To have lost a whole day is a big deficit for a small team trying to catch up and you never really recover it when there are only 12 days of testing in total."

  148. 0910: 

    Nico Hulkenberg has finally got his hands on the new Force India and has lapped the Spanish track in 1m20.880s to go third fastest. The team will be keen to clock up the mileage today after they didn't complete a single timed lap on Thursday afetr Jules Bianchi crashed.


    Sauber on Twitter: "Scheduled break for us. Fitting different parts for comparisons before @kamui_kobayashi goes out again."

  150. 0905: 

    Once the teams pack up after today's running, they'll have just 11 days to make tweaks before the second four-day test starts on 21 February, this time in Barcelona on the Circuit de Catalunya. The team's will return to Barcelona for another four day test starting on 1 March. That'll be their last chance for track time before we get underway in Melbourne with practice for the Australian Grand Prix on 16 March. And new for this year, we'll have an in-season three day test at Mugello which runs begins 1 May.


    From Anon: "Where do we think the top three teams are at in terms of showing what they've got versus trying to hide their true performance? If they are sand-bagging what are the chances that Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel will really pull the trigger today? Could be quite tasty."

  152. 0857: 

    It's a chilly start to the last day of testing - sunny and clear. At 9.25 local, the ambient temperature was just 0.9C and the track temperature is 1.7C. How cold is it? The timing monitors have a message saying: Sector two no speeds - speed trap frozen.


    Caterham on Twitter: "1st Jarno report: Track is very very cold but the car in general is well balanced and I'm getting good feedback from the steering."

  154. 0852: 

    Jarno Trulli has the pleasure of driving the Jerez track by himself for a precious few minutes. The Italian begins in the mid 1m25s and then finishes of his run with a 1m24.938s. Fernando Alonso is out, too, for his second run of the day. The Spaniard bolts on the soft tyres and blitzes round in a week's best 1m19.289s to race to the top of the timesheets.


    From Rob in Birmingham: "I'm hoping McLaren can pull it out of the bag this year. If Hamilton is as close today to Vettel as yesterday then with there rate of performance increase during a season McLaren should be the top team. Rob, Birmingham."


    From Anon: "Grosjean has to be way up there. The Lotus is showing early promise and could mix it with the traditionally higher placed teams."


    From Anon: "So who think Mark webber can be a world champ this year? :)"


    F1fanMrYoeri on Twitter: "Grosjean impressed me a lot with that time he sat yesterday. I know the times don't say a lot but maybe Lotus got it right!"

  159. 0843: 

    Good news people, I've got some video for you to enjoy. Our intrepid F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie has been talking to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, the latter of which reveals he is struggling with his new Red Bull RB8, complaining of "quite a big loss of grip" compared to last year's car which was built around the now-illegal 'blown diffuser' exhaust system.

  160. 0839: 

    Kamui Kobayashi has gone even quicker in the Sauber with a 1m20.696s. Mighty impressive considering it's freezing in Jerez. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is second with a 1m21.126, followed by Bruno Senna, Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton.


    McLaren driver Jenson Button on Twitter: "Someone's parked a race track right next to my Motorhome! Woken up by F1 cars this morning, keep the noise down boys!! ;-)"

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Everyone knows testing is difficult to read, but it has been strikingly obvious since the start of the Jerez test on Tuesday that all is not well at Ferrari. The team have been emphasising they were concentrating on aerodynamic tests to better understand the car's behaviour - but between the lines you could tell this was because it wasn't doing what they expected. After Fernando Alonso's first day in the F2012 on Thursday, technical director Pat Fry did not try to hide their difficulties, admitting he was 'not happy with where we are at the moment. I think there is a lot of room for us to improve where we are. Reliability-wise it is good. Performance-wise I think we are OK.' The problem is getting the car to behave consistently through the corners. 'We can play around with the three corner characteristics,' Fry said, 'so we can do different things at corner entry, mid corner to exit, and it is really trying to find the right balance of those things.'"

  163. 0833: 

    Talking of Ferrari, the Italian squad have failed to set the world alight so far in testing with their radical F2012 so it was unsurprising to hear the team are less than happy with their performance. Our man Andrew Benson has more...


    Ferrari on Twitter: "Today's programme has not changed. We need to collect as many data as possible about the behaviour of the F2012, mainly on the aerodynamics."

  165. 0830: 

    Ah, now that's more like it. Kamui Kobayashi zips to the top of the pike with a 1m21.250s on his seventh lap. Bruno Senna is out and about, too and has just clocked a 1m29.685s to go second ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

  166. 0825: 

    We've got another time on the board. The Lotus of Romain Grosjean has taken the lead with an unspectacular 1m31.730s. There are no pesky 2011-spec Mercedes cars around today, so maybe the Frenchman has a shot clinching top spot.

  167. 0820: 

    Anyone there? I do hope so because this is where you come in. As always, I need you like never before to keep us motoring through the day, right up until testing finishes at 1600 GMT. Who has impressed you most this week and who has disappointed you? I was massively impressed by the chat on Thursday, so let's see if we can surpass it today, eh? Tweet me using the hashtag #bbcf1 or contact me directly @lawrobarretto. And if you're a bit old school, you get me via SMS on 81111 (UK).


    Manvillehales on Twitter: "Hamilton has got to pull it out the bag this year and show the red bull drivers that it is not all about the cars."


    Sauber on Twitter: "All good, Kamui about to go out again. We try to catch up with programme after having lost track time yesterday. Mainly aero and set-up work."

  170. 0813: 

    Lewis Hamilton is the first man to put a time on the board, but it's a 1m43.061s so very little to get excited about. Air temperatures in Jerez are hovering around the 0 degree mark, with track temperatures just above that. Not ideal conditions for the tyres, then, so don't expect anything spectacular in terms of lap times until it warms up.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "There were encouraging noises from Lewis Hamilton on Thursday after his first experience of the new McLaren. Not only did he set a time just over 0.1 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel, but he said it was 'all positive so far', despite the unimpressive times team-mate Jenson Button had been achieving over the first two days of the test. 'My initial thoughts were pretty good,' Hamilton said. 'It was quite a tough day where you had to go through a lot of test items, but it went pretty smoothly. No nasty surprises. Nice surprise is that it feels reasonably quick, so that's a good thing, although obviously it can always be better. I was a bit cautious because looking at the times Jenson was experiencing over the last couple of days, I wasn't really sure where we were going to be. But when I got the new tyres on I was able to extract the grip quite easily and felt there was definitely something we could work with.'"

  172. 0806: 

    Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Bruno Senna dash out to complete their installation laps, with Lewis Hamilton not too far behind. Talking of Lewis, the 27-year-old was in a chipper mood after his first day of running on Thursday and said he is "in a good place" mentally after a winter spent analysing his mistakes from 2011. "I feel great. I'm trying to take all the right steps towards keeping myself focused on the main goal, which is winning the world championship," said Hamilton, who won the title in 2008.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "So far, the test has been quite difficult to read, but I think we will get a better picture on Friday. The teams have to make sure they're ready for the first race and it is the last day of testing for nearly two weeks. Everybody will want to see what they can do. To go away for that time and not show that, you'd have to be very strong-willed."

  174. 0802: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    And it's that man Jarno Trulli who is the first man onto the track in his Caterham. The Italian is closely followed by Grosjean, Kobayashi, Vergne, and Vettel. The field cruise round before heading straight back to the pits to make sure everything is working as it should be on the car.


    Caterham on Twitter: "Jarno's plan today is to work through tyre compound evaluation on long and short runs, run with KERS & complete a few other systems checks."

  176. 0800: 

    While we wait for the cars to file out onto the track to complete their installation laps, let me run through the line-up for today. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso will get their second taste of their 2012 machinery, along with Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and the Williams of Bruno Senna. After Jules Bianchi's crash on Thursday resulted in Force India's day being wiped out, Nico Hulkenberg will finally get his hands on the wheel while Jarno Trulli will get his first taste of the Caterham, too.


    Williams on Twitter: Good morning from a freezing Jerez! Bruno is in the car again today for the final day of the test

  178. 0755: 

    Testing gets underway at 0800 GMT but the teams are dropping like flies at Jerez. Marussia didn't even make it over to Spain for this test while HRT called it quits after the first two days. Then on Thursday, Mercedes packed up their gear and headed back to Brackley to put the finishing touches to their 2012 challenger which will be launched on 21 February. The German team ran their 2011 machine this week, with Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg carrying out tyre testing.

  179. 0750: 

    Buenos dias and a warm welcome to day four of pre-season testing at Jerez. On Tuesday, we saw the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen mark his return to F1 by topping the timesheets before seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher rolled back the years to reach the summit on Wednesday. Schumacher's team-mate Nico Rosberg finished as top dog on Thursday, but the most intriguing thing to come out of that session was that Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were separated by a mere tenth of a second. That bodes well for a vintage season, doesn't it?

  180. 0745: 

    Three days of testing and three different pacesetters. What a brilliantly unpredictable start to pre-season winter testing, eh? Will we see another different driver finish top of the pile on day four? Stick with me because we're about to find out...

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