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Jerez day one - Vettel sets early pace in Spain 01 Mar 2009

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Ferrari F60 front wing detail Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Detail of the new side pod wings on the Williams FW31 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/24 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Nelson Piquet (BRA) Renault R29 stops on track Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the fastest man at Jerez on Sunday as the penultimate pre-season test of 2009 got underway. Vettel put in a best time of 1m 19.005s around the Spanish circuit to finish over a second clear of second-placed Felipe Massa for Ferrari.

While Vettel took charge of the RB5, Massa spent his day finding the F60’s best set-up, whilst simultaneously carrying out reliability testing. Despite a long interruption following an off-track excursion, and a brief rain shower in the afternoon, the Brazilian covered 63 laps. He will continue to test on Monday.

Third fastest was Toyota third driver Kamui Kobayashi. Kobayashi focused his attentions on aerodynamic evaluations in the TF109 and covered 79 laps. The Japanese driver will hand over to team mate Timo Glock on Monday.

"This morning was my first real chance to try out the TF109 in dry conditions,” explained Kobayashi. “From the first run the car felt easy to drive so we were able to get straight into our programme of aero work. It certainly feels like a step forward from last year. The shower interrupted our afternoon but we still made it through our programme. Overall it went well so this was a good day of testing for us."

Williams’ Nico Rosberg finished the day fourth, ahead of Robert Kubica in fifth for BMW Sauber. Kubica’s main focus was to test the 2010 specification tyres in order to give Bridgestone’s engineers feedback on next year's compounds. In the morning the team decided to carry out a precautionary engine change, and by the end of the day the Polish driver had only racked up 47 laps.

"Unfortunately I couldn't drive as many laps as planned. In the afternoon the session was interrupted by five red flags and the changing weather,” he said. "Because of this I expect a very busy day tomorrow."

After sampling the newly-launched VJM02 for the first time, Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella finished the day in sixth, ahead of the similarly-engined McLaren. The MP4-24 was in the experienced hands of tester Pedro de la Rosa, who covered 94 laps as he evaluated Bridgestone’s 2010 compounds. Kovalainen will test for the team on Monday.

“Running without tyre blankets makes it harder to get heat into the tyre - but that’s the objective for next year and that’s why Bridgestone will supply the teams with different compounds,” explained De la Rosa. “We managed a lot of laps today and the work with the tyres was very positive."

Completing the day’s line-up was Renault’s Nelson Piquet in eighth. Continuing the French team’s development programme in the R29, Piquet worked on various set-up options. The Brazilian, however, only managed to cover 52 laps after several technical issues interrupted his running.

"It was quite a difficult day with limited mileage due to some small problems that we had on the car,” explained Christian Silk, chief test engineer. “As a result we didn't get as much set-up work done as we would have liked, but the engineers still have some interesting data that they will go through this evening."

Testing continues at the Spanish circuit until Thursday.

Unofficial Sunday times from Jerez:
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:19.055
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.330
3. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:20.699
4. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.171
5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:21.292
6. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:21.584
7. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:21.831
8. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:22.011