Massa tops the times after day one in Jerez

Felipe Massa topped the timesheets following the opening day of testing at Jerez.

The Ferrari driver set a blistering lap, over 0.75s faster than the second fastest time of the day, on his opening run of the day. Encouragingly for Ferrari the fastest time came in the middle of a 15 lap run. This would indicate that Massa had a relatively high fuel load and that the newly renamed F150th Italia is relatively easy on its tyres. With the Pirelli rubber still at the centre of attention this could be crucial over the course of the season.

Tyre management will play a key role in the outcome of Grand Prix in 2011. To illustrate the point you only need to look at Sergio Perez. The Mexican ended the day as Massa’s nearest challenger but showed the perils of the Pirelli tyres more accurately than most other runners. The Sauber rookie set his fastest time on the opening flying lap of an eight lap stint but quickly lost saw his pace fall away before ending his stint in the 1m27’s.

Perez also brought out a red flag after his car stopped on the circuit.

Mark Webber ended the day third but the Australian can take a lot of encouragement from his day’s running. Once more the Red Bull showed impressive consistency on longer runs. Behind Webber was compatriot, Daniel Ricciardo. The Toro Rosso test driver showed impressive pace during the day and rarely deviated from 1m23’s during longer stints.

Lewis Hamilton got his first taste of the new McLaren and the former world champion was pleased with his outing. Speaking to Hamilton said.

“I was happy with how it felt today,” he said after testing had finished. “It is definitely a step forward. I haven’t yet identified if that’s down to an aero or mechanical step forward, but my initial response was that it felt comfortable to drive.

“There were certain areas I noticed particularly that were quite a big improvement on last year. But it is still early days, so we have a lot of work to do.”

Also trying out their new car for the first time was Force India. It took the team a long time to get Adrian Sutil onto the timesheets but by the end of the day the German had completed decent mileage and the team can look forward to getting a full day of testing under its belt tomorrow.

Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg had trying days; each caused a red flag. The pace of Rosberg’s new Mercedes continues to look worrying. The German ended the day over three seconds adrift of Massa but seemed to take the cars struggles in stride.

Speaking after the conclusion of today’s running Rosberg said: “Yeah, but we expected that [lack of pace]. This is an interim car, it doesn’t have a lot to do with the car we will have in Bahrain.

“We just need to put miles on it. It’s important to get the systems working, like KERS, the cooling, and to work on reliability.”

Pos  Driver             Car                   Time       Gap
 1.  Felipe Massa       Ferrari               1m20.709s
 2.  Sergio Perez       Sauber-Ferrari        1m21.483s  + 0.774s
 3.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault      1m21.522s  + 0.813s
 4.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m21.755s  + 1.046s
 5.  Lewis Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1m21.914s  + 1.205s
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m22.689s  + 1.980s
 7.  Adrian Sutil       Force India-Mercedes  1m23.472s  + 2.763s
 8.  Vitaly Petrov      Renault               1m23.504s  + 2.795s
 9.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m23.963s  + 3.254s
10.  Jarno Trulli       Lotus-Renault         1m24.458s  + 3.749s
11.  Timo Glock         Virgin-Cosworth       1m25.086s  + 4.377s
12.  Pastor Maldonado   Williams-Cosworth     1m34.968s  + 14.259
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