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