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Massa Quickest at Jerez Test Today

Felipe Massa at Jerez today

Preseason testing resumed today at Jerez, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at the top of the time sheets.  Massa insisted the times didn’t mean much, and considering that newbie Sergio Perez in a Sauber was second quickest, one is inclined to agree with him.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber was third quickest, followed by Toro Rosso’s tester Daniel Ricciardo, who edged out the regular driver for the team, Jaime Alguersuari, who was only sixth quickest.

Lewis Hamilton, in the new McLaren was fifth, more than a second slower than Massa in the Ferrari.  Whether this is indicative of their relative performance for the season is anyone’s guess.

Mercedes has been intimating that the team will be in better shape this year than last, but thus far their teams haven’t wowed anyone in practice.  The car looks cleaner, and Ross Brawn says it’s more sophisticated than last year’s model, but thus far it hasn’t intimidated the competition.

Noticeably absent from testing, of course, was Renault’s Robert Kubica, who is still in the hospital, waiting to undergo additional surgery to repair the fractures he suffered in his recent rally crash.  Renault’s number two, Vitaly Petrov, was behind the wheel today, but Petrov has yet to prove that he can find the base line for the car’s performance.

Meanwhile, Renault announced that they will test both their reserve driver, Bruno Senna, and veteran driver Nick Heidfeld, over the weekend during the final sessions at Jerez. Even if their times are equal, you have to like Heidfeld’s chances for being brought on board as Kubica’s replacement, if only for his car development experience.

It’s hard to imagine that Renault would stake their results for 2011 on two drivers (Senna and Petrov) who completed their rookie seasons only last year.  Neither one of them was hugely impressive.  One has to assume that Renault will take the prudent path, by hiring Heidfeld, and letting Senna remain as the team’s poster boy for reserve drivers.

Driver     Car     Time     Laps
1.     Felipe Massa     Ferrari F150     1:20.709     101
2.     Sergio Perez     Sauber C30     1:21.483     94
3.     Mark Webber     Red Bull RB7     1:21.522     94
4.     Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso STR6     1:21.755     31
5.     Lewis Hamilton     McLaren MP4-26     1:21.914     58
6.     Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso STR6     1:22.689     42
7.     Adrian Sutil     Force India VJM-04     1:23.472     28
8.     Vitaly Petrov     Renault R31     1:23.504     57
9.     Nico Rosberg     Mercedes W02     1:23.963     67
10.     Jarno Trulli     Lotus T128     1:24.458     54
11.     Timo Glock     Virgin MVR-02     1:25.086     42
12.     Pastor Maldonado     Williams FW33     1:34.968     13

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