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Jerez day one - Vettel sets test benchmark 17 Feb 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6 Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010. Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren Mercedes. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010. Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01 Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010. Paul Di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM03 leads Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams FW32. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets as this week’s four-day Jerez test began at the Spanish circuit on Wednesday. Vettel’s best time, a 1m 22.593s, was just over four-tenths of a second faster than the quickest lap from second-placed runner Lewis Hamilton for McLaren.

The 11 teams in action spent the day dodging showers, as the poor weather that afflicted last week’s running continued. Even so Vettel managed to complete 104 laps in the RB6, as Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz watched from the sidelines. The young German will continue to test on Thursday, before team mate Mark Webber takes over.

“We got a lot of laps done and the car has been good and reliable,” explained Ian Morgan, Red Bull’s head of race engineering. “We’ve made a few small changes but we didn’t get through as much as the programme as we’d hoped because of the weather. Sebastian and the car were consistent on the long runs in the dry which is promising. We’re continuing to make steady progress; the car is better than it was last week and every time we turn a wheel we seem to be moving forward a little bit.”

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa ended the day third after completing 72 laps, whilst the similarly-engined Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi took fourth. Buemi carried out a brake system evaluation in the STR5 and covered 79 laps. He will test again for the Italian team on Thursday.

BMW Sauber continued to look strong, with Pedro de la Rosa taking fifth slot and finishing over fourth-tenths ahead of Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher in sixth. De la Rosa covered 76 laps in the C29 as he evaluated the best set-ups with a variety of fuel loads and tyre compounds.

“The conditions were obviously not ideal today, but overall things went well for us, and we were able to complete all the work we had on the programme for today,” said the Spaniard. “However, we hope to get in some more laps in dry conditions because we still have a lot of work to do. The weather forecast is not very good for tomorrow, so we have to make the most of every dry window we get."

Schumacher began the day on wet tyres before switching to intermediates as a dry line began to emerge by late morning. After successfully completing a planned long run on dry tyres after lunch, the rain returned and in total he completed 111 laps.

“The weather was really changing all the time today which made it difficult to follow our planned programme and to have a clear picture of everyone's performance,” the German explained. “From the laps that we achieved, we have again confirmed the reliability of the car, and from the impressions and data gathered, we can say that the pace and performance looks very good.”

Seventh and eighth places went to Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta for Force India. Whilst reserve Di Resta took charge of the VJM03 in the morning, Sutil wrapped up proceedings for the Silverstone-based team.

“Paul completed 76 laps today in unsettled conditions to get his first experience of the VJM03,” said Force India’s chief race engineer Domini Harlow. “He also carried out some control systems tests and ran wet, intermediate and dry tyres. During a very windy afternoon Adrian took over the car for a short programme in predominantly dry conditions continuing set-up development from last week's test. The VJM03 ran reliably all day, which gives a good basis for the remaining three days

Renault were ninth with Vitaly Petrov, who covered 55 laps behind the wheel of the R30, whilst Williams ended the day in tenth thanks to Rubens Barrichello’s hard work in the FW32. Although Barrichello’s programme was interrupted by a couple of minor mechanical issues, he covered 109 laps.

Lotus, who only launched their T127 last week, enjoyed a productive first day, with Malaysian tester Fairuz Fauzy finishing 11th. Although Fauzy had to drive without power steering, following a temporary supplier issue, he completed 76 laps and managed to cover enough kilometres to qualify for his super licence.

“It’s been an excellent day for the whole team,” said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “Firstly I want to say a big thank you to Fairuz who did an excellent job today with the first proper day of running. With so much going on, such as doing systems checks, it can be a pretty disjointed day for the driver. When you add into that the changeable conditions, and also the fact we were running without power steering today, it could have been a tricky day for Fairuz but he didn’t put a foot wrong so well done to him and a big thank you. With the car we had no major reliability issues - a few niggles with overheating which were quickly solved and then the car ran pretty faultlessly. The power steering issue will be fixed for tomorrow so all in all a very successful first day and a busy evening ahead preparing the car for tomorrow.”

Timo Glock was the day’s final runner in the Virgin. Glock only managed 10 laps after hydraulic issues with his VR-01 interrupted his programme.

“We have experienced a sequence of hydraulic problems which were tricky to diagnose on a new car,” explained technical director Nick Wirth. “This caused us to suffer long and frustrating periods confined to the garage and when we did venture out on track it was purely to conduct a series of exploratory out-laps to try to understand if we had cured the problem. We eventually discovered the real issue, albeit rather late in the day. Nonetheless, having fully identified the problem, we can fix it tonight and look forward to what we hope will be a more constructive day of running for Timo and the team tomorrow.”

Testing will continue at Jerez until Saturday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez:
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.593, 104 Laps
2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.017, 72 Laps
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:23.204, 72 Laps
4. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:23.322, 79 Laps
5. Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:23.367, 76 Laps
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:23.803, 111 Laps
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:24.272, 28 Laps
8. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:25.088, 74 Laps
9. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:26.237, 55 Laps
10. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:27.320, 109 Laps
11. Fairuz Fauzy, Lotus, 1:31.848, 76 Laps
12. Timo Glock, Virgin, 1:34.417, 10 Laps