Sebastian Vettel’s timesheet-topping performance on the first day of Jerez testing was overshadowed after a malfunctioning component on Christian Klien’s BMW injured a team mechanic.
The man was knocked to the ground by an an electric shock after test driver Klien did his initial laps in a car equipped for the first time with the new Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), due to be introduced in 2009.
As Klien returned to the garage, the mechanic touched his car and was knocked over. BMW Sauber said that his left hand and arm were slightly injured and the team interrupted its testing in order to investigate.
And BMW was not the only team reporting problems with KERS after it emerged that the system had caused a fire a week ago at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes factory.
Not that any of this put Vettel off. Fresh from his eighth-place finish for Toro Rosso at his home grand prix, he stole a march on McLaren’s Gary Paffett and Ferrari’s Luca Badoer with a fastest lap under 1 minute 20 on a scorching day with extremely high track temperatures.
Paffett was less than four-tenths of a second behind Vettel while Badoer came in half a second behind him.
On a day that saw few race drivers among the complement of nine teams, with Force India choosing to sit this session out, Red Bull, Williams and Renault also put in good showings.
The Enstone-based Renault gave GP2’s Romain Grosjean an valuable outing in a F1 car while Alexander Wurz for Honda was eighth-fastest.
Honda said that Wurz had been testing an aerodynamic package and a new rear suspension as well as evaluating slick tyres.
Red Bull reported that its test driver Sebastien Buemi, another GP2 front-runner, had a good day, completing his entire programme as well as setting the fifth-fastest time. It confirmed that he had been working mainly on suspension plus short- and long-term development work.
The team said that the high track temperatures “might prove a handy experience for the next Grand Prix in Hungary”.
McLaren released no test notes following its day’s work.
Day one timesheet:
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:19.844 (94 laps)
- Gary Paffett, McLaren: 1:20.179 (80 laps)
- Luca Badoer, Ferrari: 1:20.697 (69 laps)
- Nico Hulkenberg, Williams: 1:20.953 (58 laps)
- Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull: 1:20.997 (110 laps)
- Romain Grosjean, Renault: 1:21.223 (71 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:21.459 (96 laps)
- Alexander Wurz, Honda: 1:21.596 (84 laps)
- Christian Klien, BMW Sauber: unclassified (3 laps)