Jenson Button finished quickest on the opening day of pre-season testing at Jerez

McLaren’s Jenson Button has finished atop the timesheets as Formula 1 pre-season testing got underway at the Circuito de Jerez. This result came despite the Englishman being forced to stop his MP4-28 just three laps into his opening run when a fuel pump packed it in.

Once he got back and running in the afternoon, Button quickly whittled down the lap times to post the day’s quickest effort by some margin, with his 1:18.861 coming on the hard Pirelli tyre compound.

It being the end of the European winter, conditions were typically chilly when the circuit opened for business. Before that, however, minnow outfits Caterham and Marussia occupied the assembled photographers with separate unveilings of their 2013 Grand Prix racers.

Button’s early stoppage brought out the day’s first red flag, and this was shortly followed by Nico Rosberg, whose Mercedes F1W04 caught fire around the rear bodywork after an electrical failure. That brought the German’s day to a premature close, and he steadily fell down the timesheets to finish up eighth-fastest after just fourteen tours of the Spanish circuit.

The top-three positions were completed by Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean, who were the only other drivers to break below the 1m20s barrier. The times from the opening day are ultimately meaningless, with all teams concentrating on basic systems and reliability checks, along with very basic set-up work.

The one exception was the Williams team, which has opted to delay the launch of its 2013 challenger and use the opening test to gather more data on the 2013 Pirelli tyres to finalise the development and design of its new car. Pastor Maldonado had the honours in the 2012 design, the FW34, which sported the team’s 2013-spec livery. He finished the day ninth-quickest.

Rosberg’s misfortunes allowed the likes of Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa and Nico Hülkenberg to lock out positions four to seven on the timing screens. All four enjoyed trouble-free runs in their respective cars, with Hülkenberg getting his first miles in his new role as a Sauber driver.

F1 debutants Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton finished the day slowest of all fror Caterham and Marussia, respectively.

Van der Garde finished about three seconds adrift of Button’s best time, and rather worryingly reported that the CT03 was very loose at the rear.

Chilton’s day wasn’t without dramas either. The Englishman suffered a rear suspension failure after posting his fastest lap of the day, when sent him spinning into the Curva Dry Sac gravel to bring his day to a close.

The second of four days’ running at the Circuito de Jerez continues on Wednesday from 9:00AM CET (GMT +1).

2013 Jerez Pre-Season Test – Day 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:18.861   37
2. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:19.709 + 0.848 73
3. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:19.796 + 0.935 54
4. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:20.343 + 1.482 89
5. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:20.401 + 1.540 70
6. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:20.536 + 1.675 64
7. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:20.699 + 1.838 79
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1W04 1:20.846 + 1.985 14
9. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:20.864 + 2.003 84
10. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT01 1:21.915 + 3.054 64
11. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 1:24.176 + 5.315 29

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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.