As the new F1 cars got down to business on the first day of testing in Jerez, Jenson Button and McLaren overcame an early on-track stoppage to top the time sheets by a considerable margin, ahead of Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean. But there were troubles for Mercedes too, as they were forced to cut the opening day short with electrical problems.
Two red flags in the morning caused by Button and Nico Rosberg put the brakes on their respective programmes, with Rosberg the most hampered as Mercedes opted to call it a day and solve the issue before Lewis Hamilton takes over on Wednesday.
Mercedes had an electrical issue, which sparked a small fire as bodywork became heated. McLaren were struck with a fuel pump problem and had to wait until the final ninety minutes of the session to set their first lap time of 2013.
They were able to make amends for lost time during a flurry of laps in the final half an hour of the day. Button completed two laps fast enough for the top spot on Pirelli’s new hard compound tyre during a short, light-fuelled run. His lap of 1m 18.861s was almost a second faster than the fastest time on Day 1 in Jerez last year.
McLaren conducted an eight lap run on the medium tyre, during which Button set an average lap time of 1:24.1s – faster than any others over a run of similar length.
Webber had a quiet day as the Champion team went about their testing as under stated as ever. And it was not until a short run on the medium tyre in the final hour that Webber could overhaul long-time pace setter, Grosjean.
Grosjean was the first to break the 80-second barrier during a short hard-clad run in the morning and went on to concentrate on longer runs in the afternoon.
Paul Di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo behind had a promising first day in their new Force India and Toro Rosso machinery. They, along with Webber, Nico Hulkenberg on his first day with Sauber and Pastor Maldonado driving the 2012 Williams, completed the most laps of anyone and all had trouble free days.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa said that the new car was “on another planet” compared to the 2012 model, “it’s much better balanced.”
The only other red flag of the day was caused by Marussia rookie Max Chilton. The young Briton set his fastest time of the day and then suffered a suspension failure the following lap.
Jerez Test Day 1
1. Jenson Button McLaren 1m18.861s 37 Laps
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.709s + 0.848 73 Laps
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m19.796s + 0.935 54 Laps
4. Paul Di Resta Force India 1m20.343s + 1.482 89 Laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Ross 1m20.401s + 1.540 70 Laps
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.536 + 1.675s 64 Laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m20.699 + 1.838s 79 Laps
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.846 + 1.985s11 Laps
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m20.864s + 2.003 84 Laps
10. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m21.915s + 3.054 64 Laps
11. Max Chilton Marussia 1m24.176s + 5.315 29 Laps