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Vettel Quickest on Day One at Jerez

Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull RB6 at Jerez

Testing got underway again today at Jerez, in a four-day meeting that will run through Saturday.  Weather consitions were mixed, which once again made comparisons between teams problematic.  Quickest on the day was Sebastian Vettel, in a Red Bull, who was nearly half a second quicker than the runner up, Lewis Hamilton, in a McLaren.

Vettel was the only driver to record a lap in the 1:22’s, however.  Clustered behind him in the 1:23’s were Hamilton, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Sebastian Buemi (Toro Rosso), Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) and Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).  The lap times of the balance of the field drops off after that, the slowest of the day going to Timo Glock in the Virgin Racing VR-01.

Most of the paddock pundits are expecting the Big Four (Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull) to lead the pack when racing gets underway next month, and today’s times did nothing to contradict that notion.  Nevertheless, there’s  limitg to what may be gleaned about the relative performance of the marquee teams, due to today’s changeable track conditions.

As reported in Autosport, Michael Schumacher said, “The weather was really changing all the time today which made it difficult to follow our planned programme and to have a clear picture of everyone’s performance.”

Pedro de la Rosa echoed this, although he was more sanguine about the progress made during today’s test.  “The conditions were obviously not ideal today,” he said, “but overall things went well for us, and we were able to complete all the work we had on the programme for today.”

Nevertheless, he was candid about the impact that tomorrow’s weather might have on their agenda.  “We hope to get in some more laps in dry conditions because we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.  “The weather forecast is not very good for tomorrow, so we have to make the most of every dry window we get.”

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello ran more laps than anyone today, racking up 111 and 109, respectively.  Likely they were carrying heavy fuel loads much of the time, and were focusing on reliability in race conditions.

Schumacher, for his part, seems satisfied with the development of the Mercedes at this point.  “From the laps that we achieved, we have again confirmed the reliability of the car, and from the impressions and data gathered, we can say that the pace and performance looks very good,” he said.  “We have a strong basis to keep up the development this week here in Jerez and next week at the final test in Barcelona.”

Image by f1photos.org, licensed through Creative Commons.

Pos. Driver Car Best Time Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RB6 1:22.593 99
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1:23.017 72
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari F10 1:23.204 72
4 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1:23.322 79
5 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber C29 1:23.367 76
6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes W01 1:23.803 111
7 Adrian Sutil Force India VJM03 1:24.272 28
8 Paul di Resta Force India VJM03 1:25.088 74
9 Vitaly Petrov Renault R30 1:26.237 553
10 Rubens Barrichello Williams FW32 1:28.256 109
11 Fairuz Fauzy Lotus T127 1:31.848 76
12 Timo Glock Virgin VR-01 1:32.417 10
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