Nico Rosberg matched the achievement of Michael Schumacher yesterday as he too topped the timesheets for Mercedes on this, the third day of pre-season testing in Jerez.
Rosberg was in the MGP W02, the 2011 car. This was the last time it will see a competitive race track though – Mercedes are not running in Spain tomorrow, and will launch their 2012 challenger before the next test in Barcelona.
A very happy Romain Grosjean was the fastest driver in a 2012 car. The Frenchman finished his first day in the new Lotus E20 second on the timesheets.
Today also saw the return to action of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who were all trying out their new cars for the first time. The trio finished the day third, fourth and seventh respectively.
It was not a good day for Force India, however. Reserve driver Jules Bianchi crashed out this morning after completing just two laps, and failed to even set a lap time. This also impacted Nico Hulkenberg, who was due to get his first laps in the VJM05 this afternoon. The German will now have to wait until tomorrow, by which time spare parts will have arrived from the factory.
Jean-Eric Vergne got his first taste of the new Toro Rosso, and ended the day as the fifth fastest driver, one place ahead of Sauber‘s Sergio Perez.
Bruno Senna was the most industrious driver of the day, completing 125 laps during his first outings in the new Williams FW34. His best lap was over two seconds faster than that of Caterham reserve driver Giedo van der Garde.
Jerez Test Day Three: Unofficial Times
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:19.297||96|
|5||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:19.734||79|
|9||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||1:23.324||74|
|10||Jules Bianchi||Force India||no time||2|
Jerez Test Day Three: Quotes
Nico Rosberg: “I’m happy with the testing that we have achieved here in Jerez, and we learned a lot about the Pirelli tyres and a few other things for the new car. It seems that the tyres are closer performance-wise this year, with the rear tyres also looking a bit stronger. Pirelli have done a good job so far. You can’t really compare the lap times with other teams, but it was interesting to learn a lot with our 2011 car. Now I’m really looking forward to the two Barcelona tests with our new Silver Arrow.”
Ross Brawn: “We have had a productive and busy three days in Jerez this week running the MGP W02 car for the final time. Simultaneously the final preparations have been taking place back at the factory for the first test with our 2012 car in Barcelona. Michael and Nico have been able to complete some valuable mileage this week, and enhanced our understanding of the new season’s Pirelli tyres which will prove very useful once the new car in is on track.”
Mercedes will be back on track on the 21st February in Barcelona, where the MGP W03 will make its debut.
Romain Grosjean: “I am one of the happiest guys in the world right now. It's been a really good day for me. We were fastest in the morning then we completed some longer runs in the afternoon. It's great to finally drive the car which I have seen coming together and being built at Enstone. Working so well with all the mechanics and the engineers made it such a memorable first day in the E20. The car feels good on different fuel loads and tyre compounds we used. For sure there's margin for improvement in the tests ahead, but it's a great start to the year.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “Another strong day with 117 laps and over 500 km completed. We ran a similar programme to the one we ran during the previous two days with Kimi. This gives us good data across a range of scenarios and valid comparisons between our drivers. Track conditions were better today, with more rubber down and less wind than yesterday. We conducted set-up work on the medium compound tyre in the morning. Some of these were set-ups we ran with Kimi, others were new. In the afternoon we focused on getting as many laps completed as possible to test the reliability of the E20, which proved to be faultless.”
Grosjean will be back in the car tomorrow for the final day of the Jerez test.
Sebastian Vettel: “It's been two months since we were in the car, so it does take a couple of laps to get back in the rhythm, but the car feels fine and as we expected. There's quite a loss of grip due to the regulation changes, but you get used to it quickly and then start to explore how the new car feels. So far we can be happy, we had a couple of issues, but it's normal when the car is new.“
Ian Morgan, Head of Race Engineering: “Sebastian's first day in the car went almost perfectly. It was very cold this morning and hard to get temperature into the tyres. That meant that the first couple of hours weren't too productive, but later on the conditions were great with less wind than yesterday, so we managed to get through almost everything we wanted, including two long runs, which went well. We would have done a third, but there were a couple of red flags at the end of the session so we missed a few laps. But we can't complain, as it's gone well.”
“Tomorrow's programme will be more of the same. We're on course to tick off all the things we wanted to get done and we hope we can complete the list tomorrow.”
Vettel will be back in the car tomorrow for the final day of the Jerez test.
Lewis Hamilton: “Today felt pretty good considering it was my first time in the new car. My initial feelings are pretty positive, despite going through a long, tough programme of initial tests – there were no nasty surprises, which is pleasing.
“This year's car feels a bit different from last year's: in 2011, we had so much stability from the rear-end, particularly in the high-speed corners – but we're now having to find that grip elsewhere, or, at least, take grip off the front and somehow offload it at the rear.
“This car's baseline is something we can really work with. I know the men and women back at the factory will take a lot from this test and translate it into something new and even better for the next test. The car feels reasonably quick – and that's a nice feeling.
“Bringing Didier Coton onboard [with my management team] is one of the steps I've taking to keep myself 100 per cent focused on my main goal of winning the world championship. Didier's got a huge amount of racing experience and will really strengthen my management team – he's been a good friend of mine for many years, and has great experience with the team and the Formula 1 paddock. He'll be there when I need him.”
Hamilton will be back in the car tomorrow for the final day of the Jerez test.
Jean-Eric Vergne: “My first feeling when I got in the cockpit was a positive one. The car seems to have a good base from which we can progress over the winter tests. In general, it was a positive day for me and the team and I am happy with the work we got through. I still need to work on my seating position in the car to make it perfect and I'm looking forward to making more progress tomorrow. Was it a special feeling knowing this is “my” Formula 1 car for the season? I preferred to concentrate on the work side of things and put the extraordinary aspects of the job to the back of my mind.”
Vergne will be back in the car tomorrow for the final day of the Jerez test.
Sergio PÃ©rez: “It was a difficult day for us but the important thing is that we are improving. Every step we took went in the right direction. Kamui has another day of testing here tomorrow. Obviously he will have an intense programme and I hope we can finish the Jerez test with a productive day.”
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: “We started the day with some set-up work in the morning, when we tested different ride heights and dampers. The car responded very well to the changes. It all looked promising. The fact that we later lost significant track time is a shame but on the other hand our achievements so far are very positive.”
Kamui Kobayashi will be in the car tomorrow for the final day of the Jerez test.
Pat Fry, Technical Director: “There's no reason for us to take the fuel out and try and do a quick time to make headlines in the newspapers. However, we must try and maximise the limited twelve days of testing available to us. We have already lost some valuable time when it snowed in Fiorano: on the first day here, Felipe had to do all the work that we could have got through last week, making the most of the opportunity of the promotional filming.
“With only three tests available, the work has to be more compressed compared to last year and there is a lot of it to get through. The base line is good and we are working through everything that has to be tried to find the best balance on the car, especially in the various phases of the various types of corner. The matrix of solutions we are working on is pretty extensive and one can say that, on practically every run, we are trying different configurations. Here and in Maranello, we are working very hard on data analysis and also using the simulator so as to be sure that we can put together the best possible package.
“Parts are arriving here from the factory which should prevent [hydraulic problems like the one affecting Fernando Alonso today] from reoccurring. From a reliability point of view, the car seems good, as it was in the past. As for performance, I can only say that it is going to take a lot of analysis to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together.”
Bruno Senna: “It was a great day today. Although there is a lot of work to do outside the car as well as in it, it was very satisfying to finally get behind the wheel. We have had a very productive day and managed to cover all of the things we needed to. We found some interesting things out about the tyres in particular. I feel that there is a lot of potential in the FW34 and also in myself driving the car. The team has done a great job and I'm happy we have had a trouble-free day. I'm now looking forward to continuing our test programme tomorrow to learn more about the car.”
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: “I am very pleased with both Bruno’s first day in the car and the team’s performance today. We managed to finish the whole test programme without any issues, completing 125 laps in total. Bruno’s feedback has been very precise and we now look forward to continuing to understand and optimise the car set-up during the final day of testing here in Jerez tomorrow.”
Giedo van der Garde: “That was a good day. I'm happy because I put in a lot of time in the car and that was the first time I've been on track since Monza last year, so I had to spend a bit of time this morning getting back into the groove, but that came pretty quickly and then we got down to work. I'm very pleased because by the end of the day I was getting starting to get used to all the new things about F1 – there's a lot to learn but I know what I need to focus on so next time I'm in the car I'll definitely be able to get on the pace more quickly.
“There are a couple of real areas that I know I can work on – the first being the brakes. I'm used to a stiffer pedal on the GP2 car so I had to adapt my style a bit to get used to the F1 car, but that came quite early. The other area is getting the most out of the new tyres. The quickest lap time is pretty much straight out of the box and that means being on it as soon as you leave the pits. We used both DRS and KERS today and I felt pretty comfortable with both. DRS started to come naturally by the end of the day and with KERS there's more to come. Jarno will be working on maximising that tomorrow so I think the team will have more for me to work through on that system next time I'm in the car.
“Basically I enjoyed myself today. The team has been great with me – the engineers and the mechanics have all been working really hard to help me acclimatise, so thanks to them for today and now I'm looking forward to my next run.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “Another useful day of testing, this time with Giedo in the car for his first runs with us. The plan today was to acclimatise Giedo in the car this morning and then start running through more systems tests and KERS evaluation and he did a very solid job for us, making sure we could get through the whole program. Reliability was again good for us today and tomorrow we will give Jarno his first taste of KERS, run through tyre evaluations and start exploring more of the car's performance potential.”
Jules Bianchi: “I made a small mistake on my second run. The tyres were a bit cold and I spun into the gravel and touched the wall with the right rear wheel. It was not a very big impact, but it caused some damage. I'm very sorry because my mistake has cost the team a lot of time and effort. Going away from here I want to focus on the positives because we had a very good day yesterday and I've really enjoyed working with the team this week.”
Andrew Green, Technical Director: “A bit frustrating to lose some track time today, but we will take it on the chin because we had two very productive days earlier in the week with plenty of mileage. The damage to the car was not that significant, but a lack of spares at this time of year meant we could not go back out in the afternoon. The car will be ready for tomorrow morning when Nico gets his test programme underway. We will resume the aero work we started this morning and make the most of the tyres that we saved from today's limited running.”
Nico Hulkenberg will be in the car tomorrow for the final day of the Jerez test.