The Red Bull team showed that it intends to be a serious player this season after its new signing Sebastian Vettel topped the unofficial timesheets during the first day of Jerez testing.
The team came to the circuit following a four-day private test at Valencia in which Adrian Newey’s RB5 design debuted to much acclaim for its sleek good looks.
And Vettel kept the good news coming on a cool, cloudy and showery day with a fastest lap of 1:19.055 seconds, followed by Ferrari’s Felipa Massa on 1:20.330 and Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi on 1:20.699.
Williams racer Nico Rosberg was fourth as the first driver to fail to break the 1:20 mark with a time of 1:21.171, followed by BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica on 1:21.292, Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella in the new Force India VJM02 on 1:21.584 and McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa on 1:21.831.
Renault’s Nelson A Piquet brought up the rear of a tight field on 1:22.011.
Lunchtime rain showers and several red flags meant teams had to change their plans. Among the casualties was Felipe Massa who slid off the circuit, blaming sand on its surface.
McLaren had to call a very slighly early halt to its tyre-testing programme thanks to warnings from the MP4-24’s oil system.
Following the test, de la Rosa said: “Running without tyre blankets makes it harder to get heat into the tyre – but that’s the objective for next year and that’s why Bridgestone will supply the teams with different compounds.
“We managed a lot of laps today and the work with the tyres was very positive.”
BMW Sauber changed Robert Kubica’s engine after his car came to a halt with the warning lights on. Both Renault and Force India also experienced minor technical problems.
Following the test, Force India technical director James Key said of the car’s first public run: “Given the timeframe we’ve had, to get laps in here is a major achievement. It was certainly good to be running today for the first time at a test following our shakedown last week.
“The rain didn’t come today as much as expected so we got more time than we thought, although it was difficult to get a clear run with the numerous red flags. We also had one simple issue that halted our running, a fuel system problem.
“We don’t feel it is fundamental, we just need to get to the bottom of fixing it. Other than this, the car ran very well and behaved as expected. We got a lot of good feedback from Giancarlo and his feel for what the car is doing within its parameters.”
Test times day one
- Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull: 1:19.055 (87 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:20.330 (63 laps)
- Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota: 1:20.699 (79 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:21.171 (71 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:21.292 (47 laps)
- Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India: 1:21.584 (31 laps)
- Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren: 1:21.831 (94 laps)
- Nelson A Piquet, Renault: 1:22.011 (52 laps)