Jerez Test, Day 1

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa 

 © Grandprix.com, Photo: Andrew Hone

Testing resumed in Jerez de la Frontera after three days off, but the weather has continued to disrupt the teams' plans. With Lotus joining the ten teams that had been in Southern Spain since last week, there were eleven cars in action on Wednesday, but a large number of showers during the day made it impossible to do any performance work, as conditions were changing all the time.

On four occasions the drivers were able to run with slick tyres, including in the last 20 minutes of the session, but the track was never at its best and Sebastian Vettel's best time of the day was still some 3s off the best mark achieved by Lewis Hamilton last Saturday.

The results of the day were a boost for Red Bull, who has yet to have a full day of dry track to test the new RB6, but Vettel focused on long runs, achieving consistent lap times - when the track was relatively stable - in the mid-1m23s bracket in a 23 laps run. A good pace considering he was matching the best time of the session at the time while running with a relatively high fuel load.

Lewis Hamilton jumped to second on the time sheets close to the end of the day in a session in which he was an innocent victim of di Resta's spin in the morning, as he stalled while avoiding the Force India, but he had been stopped by a small systems' problem right at the start of the session. The former World Champion did a couple of 14-laps runs at the end of the day, right when the track was drying up and moved up the order in a day in which any performance testing.

Felipe Massa continued to show the Ferrari F10's speed and consistency, even though, for once, he stopped on the track shortly after lunchtime with a minor electronic problem. The team used the opportunity to chance to change some mechanical parts of the car, so for the rest of the day Massa was just gathering data for the team to analyse overnight and decide which way to go for the rest of the week.

Fourth quickest was Sebatien Buemi, who had another solid day with Toro Rosso, although he's getting progressively frustrated with the lack of dry running: "All we could do was to try different fuel loads in different track conditions, to gather as much data as possible for races in which we'll have unstable conditions. We continued to struggle with excessive tyre wear with the intermediates, as the track dries up very quickly here, so they overheat and lose tread quickly. And sometimes we couldn't run with the extreme wets either, because there wasn't enough water on the track. We did some brake testing, which showed us interesting results, so it was not at all a lot day.

Pedro de la Rosa was 5th quickest for Sauber, in a day in which the C29 continued to improve, according to the Spanish driver: "With conditions far from stable, we still went ahead with different set-up solutions, but in this case we follow the drivers' feeling, as there's no hard data or back-to-back testing to back it up. Obviously we will validate them as soon as we get a bit of dry running, but we are still happy with the way things are going. Still, I'm desperate for a day of dry running, so much for me as for the team, but we may have to wait a bit longer for that day to arrive…"

Michael Schumacher was the driver who completed more laps during the day - 111 in total - as Mercedes worked hard to get on top of the reliability problems that plagued the MGP W01 in the previous tests. Things have definitively improves, as the German had a trouble free day, but the changing weather conditions didn't let him work on the car's set-up as he had hoped for: "The weather was really changing all the time today, which made it difficult to follow our planned program and to have a clear picture of everyone's performance. From the laps that we achieved, we have again confirmed the reliability of the car, and from the impressions and data gathered, we can say that the pace and performance looks very good. We have a strong basis to keep up the development this week here in Jerez and next week at the final test in Barcelona."

Paul di Resta had his first outing with the new Force India VJM03, driving from 9AM to 3PM, and apart from a spin that brought the Red Flag out, just before 10AM, he had a productive day. Adrian Sutil took over for the last two hours of testing and managed to complete the team's program as the chassis gave no problems at all.

Vitaly Petrov had a solid day driving for Renault, but with the team opting against having him on the track where there was heavier rain, his running was restricted to just 55 laps. Once again the Russian made no mistakes at all but was, again, a bit off the pace as he ran with a heavier fuel load when the track was at its best.

Electrical problems hampered Rubens Barrichello's progress for Williams, although he was the second driver with most laps done during the day. The veteran Brazilian lost the possibility of running in drying conditions at the end of the afternoon when an electrical problem stopped him on the track with half an hour to go.

For Lotus the weather didn't affect the team's plan for the day, as they needed to get as many kilometres as possible on the new T127 while making sure test driver Fauriz Fauzy would do the laps strictly necessary to get his super-licence. A delay in production from a supplier meant the Malaysian driver didn't have the luxury of power steering in his car and that made his life difficult when the track was drying up, as he told us: "All I had to do was to complete 300 kilometres and hope the car would be reliable. I'm delighted to say the car didn't miss a beat all day and allowed me to cover 75 kilometres, more than what I needed to get my super-licence. Of course it was tricky to drive in the wet but I'm actually glad it was not dry all day as without power steering it was very tough to complete more than four or five laps in a row."

Technical Director Mike Gascoyne was also in positive mood at the end of the day: "We were limited on the amount of running we could do as it would be too much to ask to Fairuz to do long runs without power steering in the car, but apart from that everything went the way we had expected. The car worked well, we did all the systems' checks we needed to do, completed more than 330 kilometres without problems, so if the weather will help us we should be able to start working in a different direction from Thursday."

Virgin Racing continued to struggle with lack of reliability, to the extent that Timo Glock managed to complete only ten laps during the day. Persistent problems with the hydraulic problem kept the VR-01 in the pits until lunch break and the situation didn't improve much in the afternoon, meaning Nick Wirth's car hasn't yet managed to get to the 100 laps' mark in five days of running in Jerez.

Best Times:

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB6-Renault), 1m22,593s (99 laps)

2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4-25-Mercedes), 1m23,017s (72)

3. Felippe Massa (Ferrari F10), 1m23,204s (72)

4. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso STR5-Ferrari), 1m23,322s (79)

5. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber C29-Ferrari), 1m23,367s (76)

6. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes MGP W01), 1m23.803s (111)

7. Adrian Sutil (Force India VJM03-Mercedes), 1m24,272s (28)

8. Paul di Resta (Force India VJM03-Mercedes), 1m25,088s (74)

9. Vitaly Petrov (Renault R30), 1m26,237s (55)

10. Rubens Barrichello (Williams FW32-Cosworth), 1m27,320s (109)

11. Fairuz Fauzy (Lotus T127-Cosworth), 1m31,848s (76)

12. Timo Glock (Virgin VR-01-Cosworth), 1m32,417s (10)

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Stories: FEBRUARY 17, 2010
JEREZ TEST, DAY 1