Vettel fastest but Mercedes send out the most potent message as testing gets underway
Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheet for Ferrari as pre-season testing ahead of the 2015 campaign got underway in Jerez but it was Mercedes who on...
Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheet for Ferrari as pre-season testing ahead of the 2015 campaign got underway in Jerez but it was Mercedes who once again sent out the strongest message – with Nico Rosberg quickest for large part of the day and with the German putting in a huge total of 157 trouble-free laps on day one.
McLaren meanwhile managed just six laps as the new Honda-power MP4-30 went through the same kind of teething troubles experienced by their rivals at this time last year.
Rosberg was fastest throughout the morning with the German racking up almost a century of laps by 2pm local time. Top spot was wrested away from the German 40 minutes later, though, as Vettel posted a time of 1:22.958 to head the timesheet. He bettered that progressively and finished the day with a best time of 1:22.620, set on medium tyres.
Mercedes, meanwhile, continued to grind out the laps with Rosberg eventually quitting at 157 and third on the timesheet with best lap of 1:23.106. Churlish though it may seem to say, Marcus Ericsson’s P2 time of 1:22.777, on soft tyres, was perhaps proof enough that, as ever in testing, especially the first pre-season outing, lap time is largely irrelevant.
"That was a great start to the winter testing," said Rosberg of his day's efforts. "In the beginning it's all about reliability and we managed to do a lot of mileage today. The guys in the factories built a complete new car and now we come here and it's working great, so the team did a fantastic job over the winter. I was able to do some good long runs on the first day and that's really amazing."
Encouragingly for Sauber, Ericsson did end the day with the second-largest total of laps, 73, a figure matched by Valtteri Bottas in Williams’ FW37.
Williams were slow out of the traps, with Bottas only completing his first installation run some two hours after the start of proceedings. His first timed lap came an hour later. Once up and running, however, Bottas pounded around without difficult in the afternoon, eventually claiming the day’s fifth-fastest time.
Fourth on the timesheet but at the head of the class in terms of making an opening-day impression were Red Bull Racing.
The Milton Keynes team rolled their RB11 out this morning with the car sporting an eye-popping “dazzle” livery of the sort used by motor manufacturers to shield prototype cars from the prying telephoto lenses of spy photographers.
With Daniel Ricciardo at the wheel, the team racked up 35 laps on day one, almost 10 times the amount logged in the whole of the first test last year and despite calling a halt with a little over an hour remaining due to an engine issue, new Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin branded the outing a success.
“The day generally went according to plan, starting cautiously, building up the length of the runs and learning all the time,” he said. “We had a small issue with the brake controls system around lunchtime but you’re always going to have little niggles like that on day’s like this. We stopped running late in the afternoon with a technical issue, but it wasn’t too serious. An alarm went off on the engine and at that stage of the day, knowing that an investigation would take time we chose to stop. Aside from that, everything went pretty as we hoped.”
Ricciardo meanwhile admitted that he could feel an improvement from Renault’s upgraded power unit but he declined to say just how much.
“So the first impressions are good,” he said. “We’ll get a few more laps over the next few days but so far everything seems pretty encouraging. I can feel a step forward. I won’t go into too much detail but it’s there. We didn’t do a whole lot of laps but definitely more than last year! In general everything is behaving as it should. Obviously we had a couple of issues but once the car is running it’s all going pretty normally. A good first day, there are some positive signs there.”
Behind Bottas, Toro Rosso debutant Carlos Sainz was sixth fastest. The Spaniard racked up a decent total of 46 laps but brought out the red flags late in the afternoon with the day’s second stoppage. Ericsson had caused a brief halt in the morning with a spin.
That just left McLaren. The MP4-30 finally broke cover after two hours of the session had elapsed, with Fernando Alonso at the wheel.
The Spaniard put in three installations laps and then a short three-lap run that included just one timed lap.
Just seven drivers took to the track today. Force India last week pulled out of the trip to the Spanish circuit, while Lotus this morning announced a delay with their arrival at the track, the team’s E23 only landing in Spain at around 4pm this afternoon. The team later announced that with the car beginning this evening it does not expect to run before Tuesday morning.
2015 Testing Jerez – Day One
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:22.620 60
2 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:22.777 73
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.106 157
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:23.338 35
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.906 73
6 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1:25.327 46
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:40.738 6
Positive start for Mercedes at opening pre-season test at Jerez
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