Felipe Massa has rubber-stamped his 2013 campaign, leading the third day of pre-season testing at Jerez which draws to a close tomorrow. The Brazilian, who narrowly missed out on the 2008 World Championship took his F138 out on track for the third and final time this week as Pedro de la Rosa will take control of the prancing horse tomorrow. Massa’s time of 1:17.879 after 85 laps of the track put him comfortably nine-tenths clear of the closest car, the Mercedes piloted by Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg’s 148 laps around Jerez sets a new track record for number of laps, but fails to make up for Mercedes’ two dreadful first days. On Tuesday, Nico Rosberg was driving the Mercedes before the rear of the car burst into flames after 14 laps, drawing to a close his first day in the car. Wednesday saw Lewis Hamilton completing just 15 laps before his rear-brakes failed, sending the Briton into the barriers at the end of the straight. Today however, all went according to plan and the team sat nicely with a lap time of 1.18.766 which was more than enough to secure second in the time sheets, more than 0.3 ahead of Sebastian Vettel in 3rd place.
The triple world champion made his first appearance in the RB9 today, having sat by as his Australian team-mate tested on Tuesday and Wednesday. Vettel completed 102 laps (beating Webber’s 101 laps yesterday) which saw the German set a best time of 1.19.052, still 1.3 seconds shy of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen also made his first appearance on track, setting a mediocre 40 laps which left the Finn in fourth with a 1.19.200. Jean-Eric Vergne was next in the order, bringing his STR8 around the track 85 times (as did Massa) which saw the Frenchman finishing the day fifth overall, right ahead of James Rossiter, Force India’s simulator driver who managed to set 42 laps of the circuit in the morning before handing the car over to Paul di Resta for an unsuccesful afternoon running.
Jenson Button, who led the time sheets on Tuesday, was seventh overall with 83 laps completed of the circuit. The Briton will be handing the MP4-28 over to his new Mexican team-mate, Sergio Perez for a final day of testing tomorrow. Esteban Guttierez brought his new look Sauber around the circuit in 1.19.934 following 110 laps.
Max Chilton finally brought Marussia from the bottom of the table, finishing the day in eighth place. The Briton who is entering his first season in F1 managed 78 laps to set a fastest lap of 1.21.269. Valtteri Bottas, also joining F1 this season, brought the 2012 Williams car around the track as the team are yet to launch the FW35 which is set to be unveiled shortly before the second round of testing, at Catalunya.
Charles Pic in the Caterham completed 57 laps to put him over a second off the best lap time of Chilton, a 1.22.352 the best the Frenchman could manage. At rock bottom of the time sheets is Paul di Resta who had given his Force India to James Rossiter for the morning session. When the Scot climbed into his VJM06 in the afternoon, it ground to a halt with an exhaust failure.
Sebastian Vettel, Pedro de la Rosa, Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Guttierez, Jules Bianchi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Charles Pic and Luiz Razia will pilot their respective cars tomorrow as the Jerez testing draws to a close.