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Alonso quickest on Renault return (with pictures)

NEWS STORY
15/01/2008

On his first outing with Renault following his departure from McLaren, and getting his first taste of F1 under 2008 rules, Fernando Alonso has made a dramatic return to the French team, topping the timesheets on the second day of testing at Jerez.

Arriving at the Jerez circuit yesterday evening, the Spaniard spoke to the engineers to understand how the first day of the programme had gone, and to prepare for his two days work with his 'new' team.

His first day behind the wheel gave Alonso the opportunity to drive a car in accordance with the 2008 electronic regulations, and most significantly without traction control. It was also a good opportunity to reacclimatise to the team with which he has worked for six years in the past.

At the end of the session, having covered 70 laps, the overall result was an encouraging first day as the Spaniard topped the timesheets with a best lap of 1:19.503.

"The result of my first day in the car is encouraging," said Alonso. "I could not wait to drive again, but at the same time I was a bit tentative. I quickly settled back in to the team and everything went well. We made good progress throughout the day, but there is a lot still to do. I had to adapt at first to the car and get used to driving the car without traction control, but I am convinced that that soon I will be used to this and will not remember what is was like to drive with traction control."

"The whole team was very happy to have Fernando back today," added Christian Silk. "It is a bit like he was never away, and he was very relaxed for the whole day. There was a great deal to discuss with the engineers and we covered a lot of ground, so it has been an encouraging day. We can now continue in the same direction and with determination for the season ahead."

Second quickest was Pedro de la Rosa, who was partnered by Heikki Kovalainen, as Alonso's former team continued its preparations for the long season ahead. With clearer weather today, the Woking team concentrated on systems durability, which incorporated some set-up work on both cars. In addition, longer runs were focused on as part of the tyre testing. The Woking team completed the most laps today, between them de la Rosa and Kovalainen clocked up 242 laps.

Having topped the timesheets on Monday, today, Kimi Raikkonen, who was partnered by Felipe Massa, could 'only' manage third quickest, albeit just 0.205s off Alonso's pace. The Maranello duo, both at the wheel of F2008s, continued working on the development of the new car, evaluating various set-up changes, as well as doing some practice starts.

Splitting the two Ferraris was Nico Rosberg, who along with Kazuki Nakajima, completed 149 laps for Williams. On a day when the top six were covered by 0.277s, the German continued to impress.

Toro Rosso continues to show good pace with Vettel and Bourdais the best of the rest, albeit both over 0.8s off Alonso's pace. On their second day the team's drivers swapped cars to evaluate various aerodynamic components, while continuing to develop the electronic systems in line with the 2008 regulations and the modified gearbox.

Vettel also evaluated three different brake materials, while Bourdais focused on developing the gearbox controls, designed to last four races. Towards the end of today's session both drivers completed a series of long runs to simulate race conditions. More long runs are scheduled for tomorrow to progress with developments for 2008 and to improve reliability.

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