Felipe Massa set the fastest time of the first test so far to put his Ferrari top of the timesheets on day three at Jerez.
The Brazilian, who spoke of the “different world” the 2013 car is in at this stage compared to its troubled 2012 counterpart, became the first driver to break the 1m18s barrier with a 1m17.879s, racking up 85 laps in the process.
He was almost a second faster than Nico Rosberg, whose 1m18.766s lap was good enough for second spot and helped Mercedes bounce back from a disastrous first two days of testing.
After Rosberg’s day was halted on Tuesday with a wiring problem his new teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed at high-speed because of a rear brake failure, meaning the German marque had failed to clock any decent mileage.
But Rosberg but that all behind them by lapping the Spanish track 148 times – enough, as he happily pointed out, to drive from Silverstone to Spa.
Behind him was Sebastian Vettel in the new Red Bull, also breaking the 100-lap barrier, but failing to dip below 1m19s. He was just ahead of the closely-blanketed trio of Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Jean-Eric Vergne (in the ever-impressive Toro Rosso) and Force India test driver James Rossiter.
Seventh was Jenson Button, the day one pacesetter nearly two seconds off the pace but gaining valuable mileage after his own mechanical problems on Tuesday.
Esteban Gutierrez was next in the Sauber, the young Mexican completing the second-highest total of laps as he got 110 under his belt in his maiden test for the team.
He was just in front of another GP2 graduate, Max Chilton, who put his Marussia ahead of both the 2012 Williams of Valtteri Bottas and former Marussia driver Charles Pic in his Caterham.
Jerez Day Three:
Pos. Driver Car Time Laps
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:17.879 85
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:18.766 148
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:19.052 102
4 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:19.200 40
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:19.247 85
6 James Rossiter Sahara Force India 1:19.303 42
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:19.603 83
8 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:19.934 110
9 Max Chilton Marussia 1:21.269 78
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:21.575 86
11 Charles Pic Caterham 1:22.352 57
12 Paul Di Resta Sahara Force India 1:23.729 7