Alonso ends final day of Jerez test on top

Jerez: Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso ended the final day of Formula One`s first pre-season test at Jerez on Friday with a flourish despite lingering concern about the performance of his new car.

Spain`s double world champion set the fastest lap of the day at the southern Spanish track, a result that pleased local supporters even if times mean very little at this stage of development.

He was unable to do much in the afternoon due to a hydraulics problem.

"There is a long way to go until (the first race of the season) in Australia in terms of how many days and how many tests we can do," said Alonso whose car has been dubbed the ugliest Ferrari in years.

"The progress in these four days has been quite big for us. Maybe not in performance or times or whatever ... but definitely all the tests we did and all the understanding of the car has been positive for us," he told reporters after doing a mere 39 laps and a best time of one minute 18.877 seconds.

"We will arrive in Barcelona much more prepared than how we arrived in Jerez," added Alonso.

The next test is at the Circuit de Catalunya from February 21-24, with the season starting in Melbourne on March 18.

Alonso`s team mate Felipe Massa said on Wednesday that Ferrari had a lot of work to do while technical director Pat Fry made clear he was far from happy.

French rookie Jean-Eric Vergne was second on the timesheets for Toro Rosso ahead of Red Bull`s double champion Sebastian Vettel who suffered electrical problems in the morning after just two installation laps.

The team then changed his engine for the afternoon. "I`m happy with the progress we`ve made," said Vettel.

Germany`s Nico Hulkenberg had his first taste of the Force India after test driver Jules Bianchi crashed the car on Thursday and ended the day`s running for the team.

Brazilian Bruno Senna, nephew of late triple champion Ayrton, managed 124 laps in the Williams - including a full race simulation - after completing 125 the day before.

Bureau Report