Felipe Massa went fastest on the opening day at Jerez Felipe Massa has headed the testing timesheets for the first time in the 2011 pre-season, taking his Ferrari around Spain’s Jerez circuit quickest of anyone on the opening day of the second pre-season test.

Unusually, his fastest time was posted early on and never beaten – on just his seventh lap of his first stint.

The 2008 championship runner-up completed over 100 laps of the former Grand Prix venue, winding up comfortably fastest of the day’s twelve runners, and over three-quarters of a second quicker than the second-fastest driver, Sauber’s Sergio Pérez.

All teams were running their 2011-spec cars – McLaren, Virgin Racing and Force India were doing so for the first time – with HRT absent from proceedings while it performs a three-day run at Monza, helping Pirelli with compiling some media footage.

The good weather continued from last week’s running at Valencia, with bright and sunny conditions again being the order of the day at Jerez – in contrast to last year’s running at the circuit, which was blighted by heavy wind and rain.

The teams also used the opportunity to pay their respects and good wishes to the recuperating Robert Kubica, with each team running messages on their cars to wish the Pole a speedy recovery after his shocking injuries in a rally crash less than a week ago.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth-quickest in his first 2011 outing for Toro Rosso
After heading the timesheets early on, Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth-fastest overall.

By the end of the first hour, Daniel Ricciardo was heading the timesheets in his first outing in the Toro Rosso STR6.

The Australian drove the Ferrari-powered car in the morning, before he handed over the reins to main driver Jaime Alguersuari for the Spaniard to complete the afternoon’s running.

The improving track conditions saw track temperatures climb to 30°C (86°F), with Massa posting his quickest time and Pérez moving into second-fastest, having caused a red flag on track in the first hour when he deliberately ran out of fuel on-track.

The second red flag was caused by Nico Rosberg, who ground to a halt on track at 3:20pm with a yet-to-be-specified problem.

Shortly afterwards, Vitaly Petrov brought about the third stoppage when he spun off the circuit backwards at Turn 1 and buried his Renault in the kitty litter.

By the end of the day, Pérez had kept hold of second-quickest on the timesheets, with his fastest lap occurring on the first high-speed lap of an eight-lap stint, during which Mark Webber climbed to third-quickest overallhis pace plummeted to the tune of over five seconds slower. The Sauber team never ran a stint longer than 8 laps during the day.

Mark Webber had moved his Red Bull up to third-quickest – with his fastest time also set on the first flying lap of a six-lap stint. His RB7 again showed consistent pace over longer runs, lapping in the 1m23s range throughout.

Ricciardo’s early efforts proving good enough for fourth overall. He lapped consistently in the 1m23s range for his longer runs, before banging in a 1m21s lap time for his fastest of the morning.

His Toro Rosso stable mate Jaime Alguersuari was sixth-fastest, concentrating largely on five-lap stints.

McLaren opted for shorter runs early on with this being the first proper outing for its unusual-looking MP4-26, but Lewis Hamilton wound up fifth-fastest to split the Toro Rosso drivers, with his best time coming off a single lap run. Much of his lap times were in the 1m23s and 1m24s range.

McLaren ran this aero rake at the back of the MP4-26 to analyse the air flow at the rear of the car Adrian Sutil puts the new Force India VJM04 through its paces
Three teams ran their 2011 cars for the first time, including McLaren and Force India. Lewis Hamilton took the MP4-26 (sporting an aero rake behind the diffuser to analyse the rear airflow) to fifth-quickest, while Adrian Sutil took the Mercedes-powered Force India VJM04 seventh-fastest at the end of the day.

Force India also had its first run with its new VJM04, and it was a cautious start for the team before it opted for some lengthier running. At the end of the day, Adrian Sutil had completed an eleven-lap stint (largely in the 1m24s range), with his fastest lap time coming early in that run when the tyres were at their best. He finished seventh-fastest overall.

Despite his adventures in the Turn 1 gravel, Petrov finished eighth-fastest overall, with the team opting to put the Russian through a multitude of installation laps. On a longer run, his pace was in the 1m24s bracket, with his best lap time happening on the first lap of a five-lap stint.

Mercedes GP had another test day with – worryingly – little showing in the way of front-running pace. Nico Rosberg’s best lap was posted with a higher fuel load, for he ran a 17-lap stint at that time. The German also blamed problems with his adjustable rear Jarno Trulli locks a brakewing.

Tenth-fastest was Lotus’ Jarno Trulli in the new T128, who ran stints of up to a dozen laps (largely in the 1m26s range, although he did dip into the 1m24s bracket). His best time occurred later in the afternoon on a shorter run.

Timo Glock completed 42 laps in the new Virgin MVR-02, posting times in the 1m25s range on shorter runs, although he did manage some longer runs later in the day.

Wallowing at the bottom of the timesheets was Pastor Maldonado, who managed just 14 laps all day after the team found a problem with the FW33’s rear wing actuator.


Jerez Pre-Season Test (Day 1) Lap Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150th Italia 1:20.709 101
2. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 0.774 94
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 + 0.813 94
4. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 1.046 31
5. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 1.205 58
6. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 1.980 42
7. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.763 28
8. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 2.795 57
9. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 3.254 67
10. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 3.749 54
11. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 4.377 42
12. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 14.259 14

[Original images via GP Update, LAT and Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.