Felipe Massa put 85 laps on the Scuderia Ferrari F138 with his best lap at a 1:17.879 for the fastest unofficial lap time on the 4.428km circuit in Jerez, Spain. The Brazilian laid down his hot lap near the end of the morning session; he now holds the best lap time overall in on the third day of Formula One’s preseason testing.

“These were three very important days,” said Massa. “They were especially useful in the sense of finding the right direction for the team to focus on when it come to the development work between now and the opening round in Australia. We had a lot of items to test and the car went well, it was not difficult to drive and it seemed to me to be quite stable and balanced."

Pedro de la Rosa will take control of the F138 tomorrow as Fernando Alonso was not present in Jerez but will be at the next preseason test days.

Second was Nico Rosberg in the repaired Mercedes AMG. It was the first time that the team had more than 19 laps on their new F1 W04; Rosberg toured the circuit for 148 laps! He said, “To drive the distance from Silverstone to Spa in one day with no problems whatsoever is a fantastic achievement from the team. It really made up for the last two days and put a smile on everybody's face.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W04
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W04

Photo by: XPB Images

In case you missed the first two days, Rosberg was sidelined by a mechanical failure on the first day. His teammate Lewis Hamilton had a failure that sent him flying off into the tyre barriers yesterday. The repairs for the Mercedes team have been expensive thus far. Today was a good one, and Hamilton is back in the cockpit for the final day at Jerez.

Third today was the three-time consecutive world champion. Mark Webber put the first paces of the new RB9 though its initial shakedown, and was the driver behind the wheel on the second day. Sebastian Vettel’s time was a 1:19.052 on what is appearing to be a very reliable new car and add to that, no engine hiccups of their Renault.

"It was great to get back in the car, to get rid of the rust and to get back in the groove again," said Vettel. "The first feeling is good and the car is working well. It’s difficult to judge the speed, but in terms of reliability it looks pretty good.”

It was also the first appearance for Kimi Raikkonen for the Lotus F1 team. Finishing third in the title fight last year, and today he laid down the fourth best time at 1:19.200. He only put in 40 laps due to a clutch failure in the new E21 powered by Renault. The Iceman commented, "It was good to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car again. The E21 feels quite good so far, even if the balance isn’t quite to my liking yet. That didn’t stop us going through the programme we wanted to do which had a lot of aero runs in it.”

Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-28
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-28

Photo by: XPB Images

Missing in the top times today was the McLaren-Mercedes team. Jenson Button was back in the MP4 and had a best lap of 1:19.603. According to the team, “… the plan today was aero evaluation work – conducted over a number of shorter runs.” They also made mechanical changes during the evaluation runs. Why Button stopped on track near the end was not explained.

The most dramatic move of the day goes to James Rossiter who entered the pits, and hit one of his Force India mechanics. Apparently he misjudged the braking point in the VJM06. The third driver for the team was relieved that the mechanic was only slightly bruised. “It has been four and a half years since I last drove a Formula One car, but with the simulator experience I’ve built up recently it didn’t take too long to get back up to speed,” explained Rossiter.

Tomorrow will be the final day of the first preseason testing at Jerez. The teams will gather their data before the next round in Spain.

Unofficial times

Pos. Driver Car Time Laps
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:17.879 85
2 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS 1:18.766 148
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:19.052 102
4 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:19.200 40
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.247 85
6 James Rossiter Sahara Force India 1:19.303 42
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:19.603 83
8 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:19.934 110
9 Max Chilton Marussia 1:21.269 78
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:21.575 86
11 Charles Pic Caterham 1:22.352 57
12 Paul Di Resta Sahara Force India 1:23.729 7