Jerez day three was an important one; we’re getting a clearer idea of who is fast and who still has some work to do. It was a day of interrupted running once again with the red flag making several appearances and some surprises lurking in the timesheets.
Felipe back to his best
Massa, who last won a race in October 2008, seemed back to his best today as he clocked the fastest lap by some margin. His time of 1:17:879 was almost a full second quicker than the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg behind him, despite the German totalling 143 laps.
Suffering no ill-effects from Fernando Alonso’s absence, the team will continue running on Friday when veteran Pedro De La Rosa will take the wheel of the F138 in a bid to iron out any remaining discrepancies. So far Jerez has proved a happy hunting ground for the Scuderia with no technical issues and well over 150 laps racked up since Tuesday morning.
Toro Rosso on the rise
Following on from Daniel Ricciardo’s solid showing on the first two days of the test, Jean Eric Vergne took his turn today and ended it with 5th fastest time on a 1:19:247 after 85 laps. Such promising running of course means very little at this early stage of the year but the Italian minnows will be confident it signals the beginning of a revival for the team based in Faenza. Indeed, Team Principal Franz Tost issued a bold statement today when claimed they were targeting 6th in the Constructors championship in 2013; if they are to be successful such established names as Williams, Force India and Sauber will have to be tackled.
Mercedes back on track
The Silver Arrows made up for the disappointment of Tuesday and Wednesday as Nico Rosberg equalled a two-race distance, equivalent to some 350 miles, with no significant problems. With the electrical and brake problems seemingly resolved hopes are high Lewis Hamilton can complete some significant mileage tomorrow in the F1W04.
Mclaren still show promise
Although Jenson Button languished down in a seemingly underwhelming 7th place in the final standings, it was another succesful day for Mclaren as the 2009 World Champion managed 83 laps before a loose wheel stopped him just two minutes before the session ended at 17:00 CET. It was a day of long-run testing for the boys from Woking before Sergio Perez returns to the cockpit on Friday for some more familiarisation work with the team. BBC analyst Gary Anderson read more into Sam Michael’s comments about understeer in the MP4-28 than many, and having seen the car on track he said ‘there were others with far less understeer…so they’ll have to have a look at that.’ Michael meanwhile had put the understeer down to the characteristics of the abrasive Jerez circuit.
Iceman keeps his cool
Kimi sampled the E21 for the first time in anger today and had a largely positive session despite a clutch failure keeping him in the garage during the afternoon. Lotus trialled several new floor and exhaust features and are looking to make further progress on this tomorrow with Raikkonen returning to the cockpit.
Gutierrez and Bottas debut
Mexican Esteban Gutierrez was largely anonymous throughout the day but gained some valuable mileage in the C32 as he lapped the circuit 110 times, second only to Rosberg in mileage covered. No issues, no complaints and another quiet day for Sauber who continue to sail under the radar. Expect a glory run tomorrow though.
Valterri Bottas was similarly low-key and, despite completing an impressive 86 laps, was way off the pace and even outgunned by the Marussia MR02 of Max Chilton. Williams will expect better than that from their new protege.
The World Champion
You didn’t think I’d forget him, did you? Sebastian was in the RB9 for the first time today and ended it 3rd fastest on a 1:19:052, continuing to build on the sterling efforts of Mark Webber before him. Team Principal Christian Horner remains quietly confident the team are heading in the right direction, and despite Mclaren’s claim their MP4-28 is a totally new tool, Horner thinks otherwise, boldly claiming all the cars at Jerez are evolutions of their 2012 ancestors. Red Bull have nothing to worry about then…
Jerez Day 3 – 7th Feb – Times
- Felipe Massa – BRA – Ferrari – 1:17:879
- Nico Rosberg – DEU – Mercedes – 1:18:766
- Sebastian Vettel – DEU – Red Bull – 1:19:052
- Kimi Raikkonen – FIN – Lotus – 1:19:200
- Jean Eric Vergne – FRA – Toro Rosso – 1:19:247
- James Rossiter – GBR – Force India – 1:19:303
- Jenson Button – GBR – Mclaren – 1:19:603
- Esteban Gutierrez – MEX – Sauber – 1:19:934
- Max Chilton – GBR – Marussia – 1:21:269
- Valtteri Bottas – FIN – Williams – 1:21:575
- Charles Pic – FRA – Caterham – 1:22:352
- Paul Di Resta – GBR – Force India – 1:23:729
Tomorrow – 8th February
Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen are the only World Champions testing on Friday, with Sergio Perez also continuing Mclaren’s development work. Jean Eric Vergne will hope to ensure Toro Rosso finish on a high, with super-rookies Bottas and Gutierrez also driving. Charles Pic and Jules Bianchi will prop up the field with Pedro De La Rosa making his Ferrari debut.