Nico Rosberg has continued Mercedes strong pace, topping time sheets in Jerez, with 1.17.613, the day after his team mate, Michael Schumacher, did the same thing. Rosberg completed a great 118 laps throughout the day but was running the MGP W02, The 2011 car. But Mercedes will leave the track tomorrow before testing begins to get back and work on the car.
Romain Grosjean for Lotus was the fastest driver in a 2012 car, The E20. He set a time of 1.18.419 with 117 laps, one less than Rosberg. Grosjean’s team mate, Returning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen also set the fastest time on Tuesday. Could this signal that Lotus and Mercedes will be the front runners this year?
Following Grosjean was defending champion, Sebastian Vettel in the RB8 who set a 1.19.297 (Eight tenths behind Grosjean!) after 96 laps of Jerez. It was Vettel’s first day out in 2012, with team-mate Mark Webber leading the RB8 around the track for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lewis Hamilton also had his first outing in the McLaren MP4-27, after Button took the car for the first two days. Hamilton managed a lap time of 1.19.464 after 80 laps.
Rookie Jean-Eric Vergne impressed today, coming in 5th and finished ahead of Ferrari. He got 1.19.734 in 79 laps. Vergne was full of praise for the STR7 when he reported on his run at the end of the day. “My first feeling when I got in the cockpit was a positive one,” He said. “Was it a special feeling knowing this is my Formula One car for the season? I preferred to concentrate on the work side of things and put the extraordinary aspects of the job to the back of my mind.”
Sergio Perez, driving for Sauber completed 48 laps in the C31 today, in which he managed 1.19.770, just three tenths off Hamilton and thirty-six hundreds off Vergne. After the 48 laps, the team retired the car to change an gearbox oil filter.
Fernando Alonso could only manage a dismal 7th place behind Mercedes, Lotus, Red Bull, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Sauber (TR and Sauber using Ferrari engines). This continues the bad run that the team have been having after Felipe Massa finished in a shocking 9th place (Out of 12) Yesterday. Alonso only achieved a lap time of 1.20.412 after just 67 laps, a full 2.799 down on the Mercedes of Rosberg!
The Senna name returned to the wheel of a Williams, almost 18 years after his uncle tragically left it. Bruno completed a whopping 125 laps throughout the day but could only pull himself up to 8th (Out of 10). His best lap was 1.21.293, .881 behind Alonso and 2.031 ahead of the Caterham in 9th.
The CT01 was today taken out by Caterham third driver, Giedo van der Garde. Van der Garde racked up an average 74 laps and a best time of 1.23.324.
Meanwhile, Jules Bianchi, The Force India third driver had an awful day. He completed just 2 laps! He did the usual installation lap in the morning before going back to the pit. Then on his out-lap, He ran wide into a barrier and ended the teams running. Nico Hulkenburg who was supposed to take the wheel after lunch, Was then told he would have to wait until Friday morning to test the VJM05 for the first time.
Testing continues tomorrow at 8am GMT.
Unofficial Thursday test times from Jerez:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes*, 1:17.613, 118 Laps
2. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:18.419, 117 Laps
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:19.297, 96 Laps
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.464, 80 Laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:19.734, 79 Laps
6. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:19.770, 48 Laps
7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:20.412, 67 Laps
8. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:21.293, 125 Laps
9. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:23.324, 74 Laps
10. Jules Bianchi, Force India, no time, 2 Laps