• Valencia Test Report - Day One

Massa throws down a marker

Dan Knutson at Circuit Ricardo Tormo
February 1, 2010 « GP2 team to race in Renault colours | »
Felipe Massa set the fastest time in the all new F10 © Sutton Images

Valencia Gallery

Felipe Massa racked up 102 laps in his Ferrari F10 and set the fastest lap time of 1:12.574 on the opening day of multi-team pre-season testing at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo on Monday.

"The first impressions from the car are very positive," Massa said. "The car is easy to drive, has more grip than last year's car and it's also easy for the mechanics to work with. It was a very satisfying day, but clearly there's still a tremendous amount of work to be done, because our competitors are also very strong.

"But I'm very happy with this first day of testing. We didn't have the slightest mechanical problem all day, and the grip was there from the first run and already then the car was already well balanced. Then we worked on the set-up and improved the car. That with the fact the track was also improved during the day allowed us to improve our lap times by quite a lot during the day."

Pedro de la Rosa said he had no problems getting back in the cockpit after such a long time. He ended up second with a time of 1:12.784 in his Sauber.

Michael Schumacher roared back into F1 in convincing style as he was third quickest overall with a time of 1:12.947 in his Mercedes MGP W01, a full half-second faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg who drove the same car for the first two thirds of the day.

"In a way it is like 1991," Schumacher said. "When I came into F1 I was shocked on the first lap and extremely excited on the second lap and further laps. And it is exactly the same today. I feel like a young boy that has a toy in his hands and enjoys himself.

"I think we have done a very good job. The guys did a superb job out there, making a few control checks and making the car reliable. We did more than 80 laps, and for the first day that is a superb job."

Rosberg was fourth after setting a 1:13.543. "It was a good first day of testing for us and my initial impressions of the new car are very positive," he said. "It felt great to be in the car for the first time and to get our pre-season testing programme underway. Generally everything felt good although I was sitting too low in the car and couldn't see the track very well which we will improve for tomorrow.

"It's too early to get an initial impression of the competitiveness but it was very special to drive the new Silver Arrow out of the garage. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we have a full day of testing to make further progress."

Gary Paffett, ironically the only test driver who is scheduled to appear, is handling the shakedown duties for McLaren. He wound up fifth with a time of 1:13.846 in the new MP4-25.

Rubens Barrichello caused the only red flag of the day when his Williams stopped out on the track in the afternoon with a throttle problem. "I feel like it is the first day of school," he said of settling in with his new team.

Sebastien Buemi officially kicked off the test when he drove his Toro Rosso out of the pit lane at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo shortly after the track opened at 10am. The Toro Rosso team had worked late into the previous night putting the finishing touches on the car, but it spent much of the day in the garage because of problems with the gear selection mechanism.

Michael Schumacher completed 40-laps on his first day back © Sutton Images
"I am expecting mistakes because a young team makes mistakes, and this is why we are here early," said Toro Rosso's technical director Giorgio Ascanelli. "I tried to get the car on the ground as soon as I could so that we would have time to react to the glitches and the problems that for sure we are going to get."

Buemi, who only completed 18 laps, got out late in the day to clock a 1:14.762 which was seventh fastest overall. "It is a bit too early to speak about how the car feels," he said. "At the moment I am just looking at my seat, the position and all the other things we need to solve on the car. For the rest we will wait for the next test."

Robert Kubica ended up at the bottom of the time sheets with a time of 1:15.000 in the Renault R30. "There are some areas of the car to improve," he said, "but the overall feeling of the car is quite good."

In the morning the drivers were doing short runs punctuated by long stops in the pits for the cars to be checked over.

"The main target here is to check all the systems," said BMW Sauber's technical director Willy Rampf. "We want to get an overall picture about the car, and where we are regarding weight distribution, for example, because this will be one of the main issues this season. And then we will feed that information back so that in the next tests we can work on set-ups and preparing everything."

The weather cooperated with it being sunny throughout the day and the air temperature climbing to 13 degrees.

Times at the close of testing:

Pos. Driver Car Best Time Laps
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari F10 1:12.574 102
2 Pedro de La Rosa BMW Sauber C29 1:12.784 74
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes MGPW01 1:12.947 40
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes MGPW01 1:13.543 49
5 Gary Paffett McLaren MP4-25 1:13.846 86
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams FW32 1:14.449 75
7 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1:14.762 18
8 Robert Kubica Renault R30 1:15.000 69