sport

Sutil in show of force

Adrian Sutil believes he will sleep easy on Thursday night knowing he has done all he can to secure a return to Formula One.

After being axed by Force India at the end of 2011, Sutil was back in the cockpit of the team's new car on Thursday bidding to secure a deal for the forthcoming campaign.

The German finished the day eighth quickest at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya with a lap of one minute 22.877secs.

Sutil will now have to sit back and watch Force India reserve Jules Bianchi take the wheel tomorrow as the Frenchman also attempts to impress.

For now, Sutil believes he has given it his all as he said: "It was obvious I could show I am still quick and that was very important.

"I don't know who has the better chance. All I know is I've done everything I can do to get my comeback and now it's up to them to decide."

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley has revealed the board will make a decision this weekend on the one remaining seat in Formula One based on the in-car data from Sutil and Bianchi.

The fly in the ointment, however, is the weather as it is forecast to rain tomorrow, which could force the team to postpone their decision until after the third test at the end of next week.

Sutil has also suggested commercial factors are behind Force India's procrastination.

"If you think about it, it has to be something else (other than talent) otherwise they would have confirmed a driver in plenty of time for the first test," added Sutil.

"There is some business behind it. But for me the most important thing was to deliver a performance here. I have done my part.

"I had a good day, that was very important for me, so I can sleep without any worries."

After three days in the cockpit of his new Ferrari, Fernando Alonso concluded his testing this week on top of the standings, and just 0.067s slower than the best so far from McLaren's Sergio Perez set yesterday.

Alonso, who posted a 1:21.875, like many drivers has also voiced his concerns about the high degradation of the new Pirelli tyres.

"Again this year the tyres will be one of the crucial aspects to manage," said Alonso.

"They are softer and quicker, but also less consistent and they degrade rapidly with every lap.

"We will have a lot of work to do to understand how best to balance the car, but that applies to all the teams."

The double world champion finished 0.285s clear of Nico Hulkenberg in his Sauber and 0.313s ahead of Lotus' Romain Grosjean.

After team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's troubles of the previous two days, the Finn completing just 87 laps in total, Grosjean managed a day-high 119 today, including a full 66-lap race simulation.

A tired but happy Frenchman said: "I think I'm ready for a sleep after so many laps in the car.

"But it's good to see reliability to add to the pace we've already seen. We're still at an early stage of development so it's really promising to see where we are."

Behind the leading trio were Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, who was fastest on Tuesday, and whose best time today of 1:22.611 was again on medium -compound tyres, just 0.005s quicker than two days ago.

The Williams' pairing of Pastor Maldonado and rookie Valtteri Bottas split the day's programme between them, with the Venezuelan finishing 0.151s quicker than the Finn.

Jenson Button enjoyed a steady day in his McLaren to wind up seventh and within a second of Alonso, and narrowly ahead of Sutil, with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne 1.5s off the pace in ninth.

Bringing up the rear in their own private backmarker duel were Max Chilton for Marussia and Caterham's Giedo van der Garde, 3.815s and 4.302s adrift respectively.