• Jerez Test Report - Day One

Rosberg takes Mercedes to the top

Dan Knutson at Jerez
February 10, 2010 « Vettel calm about title talk | »

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Nico Rosberg set the quickest time on the opening day of the second of four pre-season test sessions in Spain. He lapped the Jerez circuit in 1:20.927 in his Mercedes W01. A few minutes later it started to rain, and the track stayed wet for the rest of the day. The times set first thing in the morning, therefore, were the best of the day and they had little relation to the relative performances of the cars.

As happened at the test in Valencia earlier this month, varying fuel loads and test strategies made it difficult to interpret the mixture of lap times. The rain further muddied the picture in Jerez. "The track is changing here and there," Mark Webber said. "It depends on what tyres you have on, intermediates or full wets, and if the tyres are worn out."

While not heavy, the rain was persistent enough to keep the track wet all day. With rain forecast for all four days, the teams are doing their best to ignore the weather and just get on with their job lists.

The day began with Sebastian Vettel and Webber pulling the cover off to reveal Red Bull's svelte new RB6. And Force India held a photo shoot for its new VJM03 which already had a shakedown at Silverstone. Webber took the Red Bull out for its first installation lap.

"The first impression is that it's been a long time since I have been in a F1 car," Webber told ESPNF1. "Obviously it is the biggest break ever of most of our careers, and certainly mine. So the installation was a bit of a new journey for both of us, including the car. But, as always, you pick it up pretty quickly from the driver side. It looks great. I think the [new] cars look a bit uglier just because of the new regulation they look a bit longer, so they don't look as good as probably they did in the past. But I am really looking forward to seeing what the car can do in the next few weeks. Lap times [in testing] are always tricky, especially here at the moment. We will find out in Bahrain how good a job we have done."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team felt no qualms about missing the first test in Valencia so that the RB6 could spend more time in the design stage.

"The principal objectives here are to get mileage on the car," he said of the team's goals for the four days in Jerez. "To understand a little bit about RB6. To understand some of the fuel loads. The smaller front tyres - how that works. So it is building up a knowledge bank, and then obviously there is development through the next couple of weeks before the first race in Bahrain."

The rest of the line-up was as follows: Force India VJM03 - Tonio Liuzzi; BMW Sauber C29 - Kamui Kobayashi; Toro Rosso STR5 - Sebastian Buemi; Williams FW32 - Nico Hulkenberg; McLaren MP4-25 - Jenson Button; Renault R30 - Vitaly Petrov; and Virgin VR-01 - Timo Glock.

With the exception of Mercedes which will switch to Michael Schumacher on Thursday, all the teams at present plan to keep the same drivers in their cars for two days and then rotate their other driver in for the final two days.

Although the Virgin already had a shakedown at Silverstone, the VR-01 stayed behind closed garage doors all morning while the crew fitted new parts which had just arrived. In the paddock, the rear doors on the two white transporters were open, and there were signs of harried activity.

"Burning midnight oil to get new parts on car and ready for off," was the message from the team before noon. "We're all set! The VR-01 is about to mix it with the big guys out on track."

Finally, at 1:47 p.m. local time, Glock headed out for a single installation lap and returned to the pits. At 3:32 p.m. he did a second lap. Just over 20 minutes later, the Virgin was back on track and Glock completed three more laps.

This is also the first proper test for the new Force India. "We are just going through the normal new car check list, but this rain isn't helping matters" a Force India spokesperson told ESPNF1. "Once that is done we will start working on the balance of the car."

Red Bull caused the first red flag of the day when Webber parked his car, which had an oil leak, on the track behind the paddock. While the team soon fixed the problem, the car spent over five hours in the garage as the mechanics cleaned up the chassis and then went over it carefully to make sure that the problem would not occur elsewhere. Webber finally got back on the track with less than 15 minutes remaining in the session.

Although Hulkenberg said in the morning that the "rain was getting worse and worse," he completed the most laps of the day with a total of 118. Besides Glock, who only did 5 laps, Petrov's lap total was the lowest at 27. There were no problems with his Renault; the team was just saving the car for better weather conditions.

While the weather helped keep fans away, some of the more hardy ones endured the rain to watch their hero Alonso who was first out on the track in the morning. He did a total of 88 laps as Ferrari concentrated on reliability tests as well as comparing the intermediate and full wet Bridgestone tyres.

The second and final red flag of the day came out with just nine minutes to go when Rosberg stopped on track and brought the session to an end.

Times from Wednesday:

Pos. Driver Car Best Time Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes W01 1:20.927 57
2. Sebastian Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1:21.031 84
3. Nico Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1:22.243 118
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari F10 1:22.895 88
5. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber C29 1:23.287 55
6. Jenson Button McLaren MP4-25 1:24.947 68
7. Tonio Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1:24.968 71
8. Vitaly Petrov Renault R30 1:25.440 27
9. Mark Webber Red Bull RB6 1:26.502 50
10. Timo Glock Virgin VR-01 1:38.737 5