Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fastest in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, edging Formula One points leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull yesterday.
The Spanish driver’s lap time of 1 minute, 24.430 seconds around the Catalunya Circuit was nearly four-tenths of a second quicker than two-time defending champion Vettel, who won the race last year.
Kamui Koboyashi of Sauber was the only other driver within half a second of Alonso, with Jenson Button of McLaren and Valtteri Bottas of Williams rounding out the top five.
Ten drivers were within one second of Alonso’s lap time, including Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
Following the Bahrain GP, Vettel leads Hamilton by four points in the standings coming into the first race of the European leg, with Mark Webber trailing his Red Bull teammate by five points. Webber was 13th-quickest with a lap of 1:25.433.
Button and Alonso both trail Vettel by 10 points.
Alonso’s Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was 12th and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was 14th in front of Sergio Perez of Sauber.
Alexander Rossi was the first US driver on F1’s grid in five years when he tested for Caterham.
Aside from swerving off the track in one instance, the 20-year-old Rossi ran an error-free 25 laps, registering a best lap time of 1:28.448.
Spanish team HRT managed to get both of its Spanish drivers out on the track as Pedro de la Rosa and Dani Clos filled out the bottom two of the 24-car field, with Clos making his debut of this year.
Testing concluded with a second session later yesterday before it resumes today ahead of qualifying for the 66-lap race tomorrow.