Sauber rookie Felipe Nasr has continued the Swiss team’s solid showing in the first Formula 1 pre-season test by posting the fastest time on the penultimate day at the Circuito de Jerez. After suffering a spin earlier in the day, the Brazilian posted a 1:21.545 on the Pirelli Soft tyres, three-tenths of a second quicker than the time he posted on Day 2.
The relative merits of the actual lap times are questionable, however, as each team will be running its own programmes, fuel loads and strategies while they fine-tune their new cars and identify initial development opportunities.
After the final hour of Day 2 was hit by a sudden rain storm, the damp conditions remained when the pit lane opened at 9:00am local time. Nasr was caught out on the slippery track surface and lost control at Turn 9. He was back out on track after a quick check-up from his mechanics, and posted his fastest time with two hours of the test day to run.
Second-fastest was Kimi Räikkönen in his first hit-out in the Ferrari SF15-T, clocking a 1:21.750 as his fastest time.
The Finn – who recently celebrated becoming a father – finished two-tenths adrift of Nasr, and pleasingly managed to complete more than a race distance to build on the solid two days’ running managed by teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The Finn was never happy with the SF15-T’s predecessor, the F14T, and was delighted after his first day behind the wheel of the 2015 car.
“The whole package is quite a bit better than how we finished last year. We have improved in all the areas,” he told reporters afterwards. “It’s just the first day and the first test, so we still have a lot of things to do and improve, but it’s definitely a positive start – we have something to work with.”
Reigning champions Mercedes once again led the way in track mileage honours, with Nico Rosberg mustering another 151 laps – more than the equivalent of two race distances. He did, however, trigger one of the day’s red flags when his F1W06 Hybrid suffered an engine shutdown at the chicane.
Felipe Massa had his first outing in the new Williams FW37 after teammate Valtteri Bottas’ two days behind the wheel. The veteran driver managed the car’s quickest lap of the test session so far (1:22.276) to finish the day fourth-fastest with a solid 71 laps under his belt.
Pastor Maldonado’s second day in the Lotus E23 Hybrid got off to a slow start when he was confined to the pit lane for much of the morning while telemetry issues were resolved. Once out on track, he managed almost 100 laps with a fastest lap half-a-second down on Massa’s best.
Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr joined fellow debutante Nasr in clocking over 100 laps for the day. The Spanish youngster worked through a number of programmed runs, as well as practiced pit stops and standing starts as his familiarisation with F1 machinery continued.
Red Bull Racing had hoped to recover lost track mileage after Daniil Kvyat’s mistake on Day 2 of the test (he damaged the team’s only front wing), but a power unit change in the middle of the session greatly hampered Daniel Ricciardo’s running.
Having managed a paltry 17 laps over four days of testing with their new Honda engines – two days at Jerez, and two days at Yas Marina last year – McLaren was desperate for a turnaround in their fortunes.
Thirty-two laps might not be considered a great achievement, but in the scheme of things this constituted massive progress for the Woking outfit. Fernando Alonso still finished slowest of all – he was over 14 seconds slower than Nasr’s fastest time of the day, but his running occurred when the track was damp before his Honda power unit developed a water leak that brought the MP4-30’s running to a close while the faulty unit was removed for inspection.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Jerez Day 3 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:21.545||108|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:21.750||+ 0.205||92|
|3.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:21.982||+ 0.437||151|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:22.276||+ 0.731||71|
|5.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:22.713||+ 1.168||96|
|6.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:23.187||+ 1.642||136|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:23.901||+ 2.356||48|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:35.553||+ 14.008||32|
Image via XPB Images