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Having missed the opening test of the season at Jerez, Fernando Alonso will drive the first three days of this week's test at Barcelona.
When Ferrari revealed that Alonso would miss the opening pre-season test in order to concentrate on personal training, the conspiracy theorists got to work. Among the suggestions being made for the Spaniard's absence, and ignoring the fact that this has happened before, even when he was at Renault, was that he had injured himself over the winter.
Now, Alonso is back, and the Spaniard will enjoy three days in the F138 before handing over to teammate Felipe Massa - who shared driving duties with Pedro de la Rosa at Jerez - on Friday.
The team admits that while the test in Jerez was useful, the Circuit de Catalunya is a more realistic test of how a car really performs, with aerodynamics playing a more important role. Consequently, the job sheet for the four days includes more tyre testing, on a track surface that is more representative of what lies ahead in terms of degradation and pace, while aerodynamically, the engineers will continue gathering data, as well as introducing the first new elements and updates, as part of a relentless development programme that began before the F138 had turned a wheel
While Massa is said to be highly optimistic about the F138, certainly compared to the F2012, only a constant development programme will reveal if it is better than its rivals.
Although Massa posted the quickest overall time at Jerez, 0.269s quicker than his nearest rival, Kimi Raikkonen, it was noted that Jenson Button's 1:18.861, though 0.982s slower, was posted on the first day and on the hard compound. Massa's best being posted on the soft.
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