Massa tops first day at Jerez

Felipe Massa, Jerez test

Felipe Massa, Jerez test 

 © WRI2

Felipe Massa (1:20.709) once again underlined the unlikelihood of this season's new Ferrari F1 challenger being "truck-like", despite the recent branding issues with Ford (see separate story), when the Brazilian topped the first day of Jerez F1 testing by almost three-quarters of a second.

Times must be taken with a large pinch of salt, however, which is probably how things will remain until the final pre-season test in Bahrain in March, when teams are likely to run similar programmes on similar tyres ahead of the season's first race at Sakhir on March 13.

The Sauber C30 was second quickest in the hands of rookie Sergio Perez (1:21.483), who caused one of the day's red flags.

Technical chief James Key explained: "Before we concentrated on set-up and worked on the braking system we also planned to run out of fuel, which was why the car stopped out on the track. In the afternoon we carried out back-to-back comparisons to learn more about the mechanical set up and only used the medium and hard tyre compounds. In the afternoon we used no more than three sets of the harder ones, and they certainly degrade, but not so badly that we could not learn anything from them."

Mark Webber (1:21.522) set third best time of the day in the new Red Bull RB7 and said: "It was pretty good. We did almost 100 laps and the car ran well. On the performance side I think we're going okay; it's very early and you don't know who's doing what, but we seem to be going in the right direction. I'd like to add that my wishes are with Robert (Kubica). It was a big shock for all of us. I couldn't believe it. It looks like the people involved have done an incredible job for him after the accident to keep him in the best shape possible but it's a big loss for our sport that he's not here this year and a big loss for us as competitors, as we're motivated to race against the best guys in the world and Robert is one of them."

Toro Rosso made some changes to its new STR06 after studying data from last week's Valencia test and is confident that it has made progress. Red Bull Young Driver protégé Daniel Ricciardo (1:21.755) had his run in a Toro Rosso and will drive in Friday first free practice at most 2011 GPs. He completed 31 laps before handing over to Jaime Alguersuari for the afternoon.

"It was good to be back in the cockpit and fortunately I seem to have remembered how to drive!" Ricciardo said. "I also managed to use both of the new elements, KERS and the DRS (drag reduction system) which seemed to function as planned and I felt quite comfortable by the end of the morning."

McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (1:21.914) made a cautious start with the new MP4-26 as the team spent much of the day undertaking rigorous checks. They did not run the drag reduction system but used the new KERS hybrid system for the first time later in the day, ending up fifth quickest.

"We didn't do any particularly long runs and I wasn't too aggressive with the car but it feels good compared to last year's, which is positive." Hamilton said. "It feels like a good step over MP4-25."

Alguersuari took the Toro Ross round sixth fastest (1:22.689) and then came Adrian Sutil (1:23.472) shaking down the new Force India. Engineering chief Dominic Harlow said: "Today was the roll-out for VJM04, and as such we were looking to install and shakedown the car whilst increasing our run lengths and looking to reach stabilised temperatures. We lost a few hours to a problem with the exhaust blast shields, which required some ingenuity to solve, but once that was done we covered just over 120km with no further issues."

Vitaly Petrov (1:23.504) was three hundredths behind with the new Renault as the team got back on track after the weekend's shocking developments. "Things were much better for me compared to Valencia and at least we managed to do quite a lot of laps," the Russian explained. "We lost some time because the car had an oil leak in the middle of the day but we made the most of the time on track and I managed to do some set-up work. It's important to understand how the tyres work and we found quite a lot of degradation with the rears, and that's one of the reasons why it's difficult to find the right set-up. I also continued using the KERS and moveable wing today and that went well, with no issues."

The new Mercedes was once again well down the time sheet in the hands of Nico Rosberg (1:23.963). The German did 67 laps before a repeat of the hydraulic issue experienced in Valencia. "We had a few little issues but the KERS was working well; it's not just a question of using the buttons but also understanding the effect of the KERS under braking," he said, "we are also starting to understand the tyres better."

Jarno Trulli (1:24.458) lost much of the afternoon to a mechanical problem with the new Lotus, while Timo Glock (1:25.086) put the first laps on the new Virgin Racing chassis. Pastor Maldonado (1:34.968) had a troubled day with the new Williams FW33, a bleed screw for the rear wing hydraulic actuator giving problems and limiting the team to some aero testing late in the day.

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