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Photo: Octane Photographic
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Button Shrugs Off Reliability Woes To Top First Jerez Test

Jenson Button topped the timesheets by nearly a second at the first pre-season test in Jerez today (Tuesday) despite missing most of the morning with a fuel pump problem.

The McLaren MP4-28 had completed just three laps, none of them a flier, before stopping on track after the part – a brand new design – failed, causing the session to be halted.

However, the 2009 World Champion bounced back to rack up 37 laps, setting a best time of 1m18.861s to head Red Bull’s Mark Webber (1m19.706s) and morning pacesetter Romain Grosjean’s Lotus (1m19.796s).

Button was not the only Brit to bring out a red flag after Max Chilton, driving the newly-unveiled Marussia MR02, suffered a rear suspension failure and ended his day in the gravel. He finished the day bottom of the timesheets, completing just 29 laps after the team opted not to run again.

Only Nico Rosberg lapped the Spanish track fewer times than the Marussia, the German catching the attention of on-looking photographers as his Mercedes W04 spat flames as a faulty wiring loom caused the car to stop on track. However, the team said it would be okay for when Lewis Hamilton takes over the car tomorrow – his first experience driving a Mercedes in anger.

Paul Di Resta’s Force India was the busiest car on Tuesday, racking up 89 laps, and was fourth fastest, fractionally ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Nico Hulkenburg (in his first appearance in a Sauber) were sixth and seventh, and lapped within a second of Webber’s RB9.

Pastor Maldonado gave a glimpse of what the 2013 Williams may look like, the Venezuelan running a modified 2012 car – the key part being a modesty panel on the front nose. He was only ninth fastest, completing 84 laps, just over a second ahead of Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham.

Jerez timesheet (day one):

Pos. Driver Car Time Laps
1 Jenson Button McLaren 1:18.861 37
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:19.709 73
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:19.796 54
4 Paul Di Resta Force India 1:20.343 89
5 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:20.401 70
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:20.536 64
7 Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1:20.699 79
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.846 14
9 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:20.864 84
10 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:21.915 64
11 Max Chilton Marussia 1:24.176 29