Fernando Alonso noted the performance of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton following an intriguing three days of pre-season testing in Barcelona.
All F1 teams were out in Spain to test out their newly adapted cars for the first time on a Grand Prix track, with vehicle development now restricted by new technical regulations.
The new governance has been designed to make racing more competitive, raising the propsect of a more competitive field this season.
In 2021, the campaign was dominated by Mercedes and Red Bull, and in particular eventual world champion Max Verstappen and Hamilton, with the pair winning 18 of the 22 races on offer.
It was the Silver Arrows’ who won an eighth consecutive Constructors’ title though, while Ferrari came in third, more than 250 points behind the top two.
However, the Scuderia have been tipped to challenge strongly this time around, and sure enough, they completed the most laps of any team in Spain with 439 over the three days.
And although Hamilton set the fastest lap during testing, he was using the high grip C5 rubber tyres, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was just over half a second short of that on C3 tyres.
Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, has already outlined his own plans to challenge the front-runners this season. His compatriot Alonso believes Ferrari stand a good chance of reigning supreme this year after being left impressed by their pace in testing
and also noted the performance of Toto Wolff’s team in a worrying admission for Verstappen. “Ferrari seems to be the fastest car, which is surely a surprise,” PlanetF1 quoted Alonso as having told TVE.
“For Carlos it’s great news and for Spain in general. Mercedes has also turned [out] fast. “The two-time world champion’s admission will be of concern to Red Bull, with Verstappen and Sergio Perez failing to match the pace of their main rivals.
Alonso’s own week came to a premature end though after he was forced to stop his car on the track on Friday, with plumes of smoke coming out of his Alpine car.
The team has since revealed that the fire was caused by an issue with its hydraulics, and the required repairs meant it could not take any further part in the remainder of the day.
“After further investigations in the garage following Fernando Alonso’s on-track stoppage earlier this morning, the team can confirm the issue was a problem with the hydraulics,” an Alpine statement read.