Jenson Button has set the ball rolling, topping the time sheets at Jerez.
The Brit overcame an early mechanical failure to return to track and set a 1.18.861 in the closing stages of Day 1. The fuel pump failure which saw Jenson clamber from his car midway through the session was a similar failure to the one that saw Lewis Hamilton dropping out of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year, prompting some early fears regarding McLaren’s reliability.
Mark Webber brought the new look Red Bull for a spin which saw him set a fastest lap of 1.19.709 which was good enough for second on the time sheets, but still 0.8 seconds off Button in the McLaren. Romain Grosjean brought his Lotus home in third place with a 1.19.796, having set the fastest time in the morning.
Paul di Resta, who is still to reveal the identity of his 2013 team-mate, completed the most laps of anyone, 89, which left him fourth on the table with a 1.20.343, nearly 1.5 seconds of Button’s pace. Daniel Ricciardo who pulled the covers off the STR8 yesterday evening finished the day 5th overall, a 1.20.401 the best the Aussie could manage.
Felipe Massa who is hoping for a much improved 2013 season, sat on the halfway point in today’s session, managing sixth overall with his F138, a 1.20.536 the Brazilian’s best time which puts him 1.675 of Button in the McLaren.
The two Nico’s lined up next on the time sheets, Hulkenberg beating Rosberg to P7. Hulkenberg’s 79 laps saw him set a best time of 1.20.699 in the grey Sauber while Rosberg’s day was hampered with an electrical fault after just 11 laps, which saw him set a 1.20.846 which isn’t bad for such a small amount of running.
Pastor Maldonado brought his race winning FW33 around the track as Williams are yet to unveil their 2013 challenger. His attempts saw him 9th overall, just over two seconds shy of Jenson’s lap, a 1.20.864 on the record for the Venezuelan. Giedo van der Garde was the highest place rookie on the time sheets, bringing his Caterham to 10th place after 64 laps of Jerez.
Max Chilton brings up the end of the time sheets, but a suspension failure and a trip to the gravel brought a sudden end to his day, 29 laps completed. His fastest lap (albeit on a shorter day) is 5.3 seconds short of Button and 2.3 behind Marussia’s closest rival, Caterham.
Testing continues tomorrow as Webber, Massa, Perez, Grosjean, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, di Resta, Maldonado, Ricciardo, van der Garde and Chilton bring their respective machines around.