With the first full day of 2013 F1 action over, it’s time for the teams to take a breather and examine their first day performances; how fast are they? Where are they in the pecking order? What are their rivals doing? Read on to answer some of those questions…
Jenson Button and Mclaren may have been fastest by some margin come sundown but the fuel pump failure early in the morning severely hindered any chance of completing a significant number of laps and will cause consternation back at Woking given it was the same device that squandered at least 43 points for the team last season. However, Button described his first day in the MP4-28 ‘office’ as ‘comfortable’ having retained his 2012 seating position. The Briton managed fewer laps than anyone bar Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and the unfortunate Chilton, so to have the fastest average and overall times is a positive start to the year for Button and Mclaren.
“It’s a nice starting point.” said the 2009 World Champion. “Nothing stands out as a big issue, but lap times mean nothing right now.”
The BBC’s Gary Anderson described the Red Bull RB9 of Australian Mark Webber as looking ‘cumbersome’ when running on high fuel which does not bode well for the Austrian team. However, if anyone can sort it, Adrian Newey can and Webber completed an impressive 73 laps without incident, recording the 2nd fastest time of the day; eight-tenths down on Mclaren is a trifle worrying for the boys from Milton Keynes but, again, these are early days and nothing is set in stone just yet.
“The car” Webber said “…feels pretty good, so I’m happy.”
It was a less encouraging day for Mercedes, as Nico Rosberg managed a paltry 14 laps before his Silver Arrow lit itself up like a firecracker and refused to go further; a faulty wiring loom was found to be the culprit and Mercedes were disappointed not to have made more progress. New sponsor BlackBerry would not have been pleased to see their logo consumed by flames. An omen perhaps for the downtrodden Apple and Samsung rival?
“At this time of year all you want to do is spend time in the car and get a feeling for how it’s working, but these hiccups are just part of the game,” commented a reflective Rosberg. “During the laps I completed this morning, I had a good feeling with the car and it felt solid.”
Marussia suffered an equally upsetting day. The MR02 was universally praised by fans for its styling and appearance but Max Chilton was a helpless passenger when the new car succumbed to a suspension failure and pitched him into the wall after just 29 laps. His time of 1:24:176 was over two seconds slower than Giedo Van Der Garde in his Caterham, the Dutchman making his track debut for the team in the striking new CT03.
Romain Grosjean enjoyed a productive day’s work at the wheel of his new E21, although he was unable to improve on his morning time during the afternoon despite completing 54 laps. Paul Di Resta was snapping at his heels in the VJM06 and ran for an excellent 89 laps throughout the day, reporting back that “I felt very comfortable all day and we managed to get through the programme as we focussed on collecting aero data and understanding how well the car correlates with our simulation tools at the factory…”
Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado (in a revised 2012 Williams FW34) surrounded the Ferrari of Felipe Massa who described Button’s benchmark time as ‘incredible’. The F138 proved to be a good match for its Red Bull and Mclaren rivals however, with the Brazilian claiming he could have matched anyone’s time had he felt the need to do so.
Those Jerez testing times in full:
1. Jenson Button – GBR – Mclaren – 1:18:861
2. Mark Webber – AUS – Red Bull – 1:19:709
3. Romain Grosjean – FRA – Lotus – 1:19:796
4. Paul Di Resta – GBR – Force India – 1:20:343
5. Daniel Ricciardo – AUS – Toro Rosso – 1:20:401
6. Felipe Massa – BRA – Ferrari – 1:20:536
7. Nico Hulkenberg – DEU – Sauber – 1:20:699
8. Nico Rosberg – DEU – Mercedes – 1:20:846
9. Pastor Maldonado – VEN – Williams – 1:20:864
10. Giedo Van Der Garde – NED – Caterham – 1:21:915
11. Max Chilton – GBR – Marussia – 1:24:176
Tomorrow, highlights will include Sergio Perez in the cockpit of a Mclaren for the first time, Lewis Hamilton making his Mercedes debut and World Champion Sebastian Vettel trying his hand with the RB9.