Edd Straw from Autosport put it perfectly: testing is simultaneously everything and nothing. While all the formula one cars pound round the circuit, deep down everyone is hoping for their favorite team to set the fastest time of the day even though they know that time means absolutely nothing at that point. The third day of testing saw all the teams exceed their mileage of the previous day and build on the progress of the work done overnight.
Vettel got his first taste of the RB9 today in Jerez and the outing was successful. As it was his first go in the car, he was quick to reserve immediate judgement of the car’s place in the performance hierarchy. He completed 102 laps and didn’t come across any mechanical difficulties, a success in and of itself.
“Today it was nice to be back in the car and not much more than that. We shouldn’t get excited in any way.”
Felipe Massa grabbed the headlines today as he set the fastest time of the week. As we know the time doesn’t mean anything at this point, it was nice to see that clear progress has been made. Felipe was cautious to read too much into the performance of his F138, though, saying that he was still impressed with Button’s opening day time because it was set on hard tires.
“It’s going in the direction I was hoping but the races are where it counts. In the tests I don’t think it counts so much.”
Button returned to action today hoping for a bit more reliability in a bid to rack up the mileage. He completed nearly 90 laps so the day was a success. At the end of the test, he stopped out on track most likely testing the fuel limits of his MP4-28. Other than this, the day was full of smooth if not lightning fast running.
Kimi Raikkonen made his debut in the E21 today. His goal of solid running wasn’t achieved due to clutch issues throughout the day. The result: only 40-odd laps but the fourth fastest time of the day. Raikkonen admits that the car still needs some work but his is happy with the progress already made.
“I think we have a good car, but how good it is this year we will only see it during the races and during the season. But it is not a bad start.”
On the back of two disastrous days of testing, all Nico Rosberg needed was a day full of driving. That is what he got. The F1W04 ran beautifully today to the tune of 148 laps of the Jerez circuit. To top off a resounding,u successful day, Nico set the second fastest time of the day, though, don’t read into that.
“Today, we showed that we have a very reliable car. Nothing at all went wrong today on the car, not the slightest thing.
Esteban Gutierrez made his preseason test debut for Sauber today. He was one of the few drivers today to complete more than 100 laps of the track and, while he admits to having a stiff neck, the believes that the C32 has a marked improvement in downforce over its predecessor.
“It’s an improvement, it’s another step and it is something we all feel very happy with. We are trying to develop it even further.”
James Rossiter had his second chance in the Force India and thoroughly impressed. He was second fastest for most of the day, eventually ending up 6th. There was some drama during the day as James, when coming into the pits, misjudged his braking point and knocked over one of the mechanics. Paul Di Resta took over for the second half of the day but only managed seven laps.
“Thank god Marcus is okay. He has got a few bruises and I am sure I will be buying him many beers and he won’t be forgetting it soon.
New-to-Twitter man, Valtteri Bottas made his start with Williams in the updated 2012 car. The fin described his first day as “positive” saying that the updates brought to the test seem to be working.
“We’ve tried some new bits and it looks positive. It’s a bit like for everyone; it will just be a more developed car from last year’s car but it’s still too early to say [how it feels] we need to see the complete [new] car running on track and see how it behaves.”
Jean Eric Vergne had his first day in the STR8 today and ran glitch-free. He finished the day a solid 5th on the time sheets, just below Kimi Raikkonen. Whether this means he’ll be setting pole positions or qualifying last this season remains to be seen, but what can be confirmed is that the Toro Rosso is a marked improvement over its predecessor.
Charles Pic made his debut for his new team today in a very interesting position. He is the first mad to have made a sidestep between the “new teams”, giving him the rare opportunity to directly compare them. He is impressed with the pairing of KERS and the Renault engine.
“What was different was the engine and the KERS, of course. After that, I think they are two young teams who are working hard to progress. Of course there are some differences. We will see in Australia who is the best.”
Max Chilton returned to the cockpit today hoping for more reliability with which he could make progress in his new F1 environment. He was setting impressive times towards the end of the day ending up 9th overall, just 3 seconds down on the benchmark time. Max was very positive about the improvements that Marussia has made.
For me, I drove the 2012 car; it’s obviously a different track but I know when it shows some potential and I think the team knew as well so when we came in we had smiles all round.”
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m17.879s 85
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m18.766s +0.887 148
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m19.052s +1.173 102
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m19.200s +1.321 40
5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m19.247s +1.368 85
6. James Rossiter Force India 1m19.303s +1.424 42
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m19.603s +1.724 83
8. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m19.934s +2.055 110
9. Max Chilton Marussia 1m21.269s +3.390 78
10. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m21.575s +3.696 86
11. Charles Pic Caterham 1m22.352s +4.473 57
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.729s +5.850 7