At the wheel of the McLaren MP4-28, Jenson Button topped the timing sheets at the end of the first day of testing for the 2013 Formula 1 season at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain.
The 2009 world champion completed 37 laps and clocked the best time of 1:18.861 late in the day, which in the end was almost a full second on his closest rival, Mark Webber in the Red Bull RB9. Romain Grosjean was third fastest in the Lotus E21.
Button’s best was also almost a second up on last year’s best time of 1:19.670 set on the opening day at the same venue.
However, it was by no means an easy day for McLaren as they suffered a mechanical fuel-pump issue – the kind that cost them dear last year – early in the day, before even attempting a flying lap. The MP4-28 was returned to the pits on the back of a recovery vehicle.
Repairs took time, hence Button was only able to complete 37 laps which was about half of what most teams were able to rack up during the course of the day.
“I had a good feeling with the car, I felt at home immediately. It feels very similar to what I have felt in the simulator which is great because it means when we develop the car we can develop it from the simulator,” Button told Sky Sports at the end of the day.
There were a couple more red flag stoppages on the day, with Nico Rosberg coming to a halt out on circuit due to a wiring loom problem. There was a brief flash fire at the rear end of the Mercedes W03 which the team explained as “unburnt fuel in the exhausts[which] subsequently ignited but did not cause any serious damage.”
Rosberg ended the day eighth fastest.
There was a scare for Max Chilton in the Marussia MR02, when the rear right suspension appeared to fail, throwing the car into a spin before ending up in the crash barriers, without major damage. The team were investigating the cause of the failure.
About 50 minutes in total were lost to the red flag stoppages during the course of the day.
Webber was second fastest with 73 laps on his chart, and declared himself happy with the Red Bull RB9, summing up his day, “There’s a bit of housekeeping we have to get on top of but, other than that, it’s been encouraging. The car feels similar to last year’s, so the main difference is the tyres.”
Despite delays caused by ballast redeployment and KERS battery change on the Lotus E21, Grosjean also ended his day with a smile on his face. He completed 54 laps and said, “The feeling is good from the E21; it feels very similar to the E20 from behind the wheel, even if it does look different from the outside.”
Paul di Resta completed 89 laps, more than any of his rivals, ending the day fourth best as he “focused on collecting aero data and understanding how well the car correlates with our simulation tools at the factory.”
Daniel Ricciardo, was fifth fastest, heading up a trio of Ferrari powered cars in the Toro Rosso STR8.
Up next was Felipe Massa in the Ferrari F138, with 64 laps to his credit, but 1.6 seconds down on the top time of the day. The team summed up their opening day: “The entire day was given over almost entirely to acquiring data relating to the behaviour of the new car.”
Sauber new boy Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest in the C32.
The only team yet to unveil their 2013 car is Williams, thus Pastor Maldonado spent the day in last year’s FW34 evaluating the new Pirelli tyres while concentrating on “running some new systems in preparation for the FW35.”
Newly signed Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde was the CT03, he last drove for the team during Friday free practice in Brazil, thus well positioned to do back-to-back comparisons between the new car and last year’s model. He declared himself content that progress was done over the winter, ending the session 10th fastest but three seconds down on Button’s best lap time.
Jerez Testing Day 1 Results – Monday, 5 February 2013
|2||M.Webber||Red Bull RB9||1.19.709||+0.848||73|
|4||P.Di Resta||Force India VJM06||1.20.343||+1.482||89|
|5||D.Ricciardo||Toro Rosso STR8||1.20.401||+1.540||70|
|10||G.Van der Garde||Caterham CT03||1.21.915||+3.054||64|