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Valencia day one - Vettel leads the way for Red Bull 01 Feb 2011

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday, 1 February 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F150.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday, 1 February 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday, 1 February 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday, 1 February 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the early leader as this year’s opening test got underway on Tuesday in Valencia. Vettel covered 93 laps and clocked a best time of 1m 13.769s at the Spanish circuit in the newly-launched RB7. The 2010 world champion focused on gaining a greater understanding of the 2011 car and the new Pirelli tyres. He is expected to continue testing on Wednesday.

“It was good today and I felt comfortable in the car, I enjoyed it,” said the German. “It was day one for most of us and there’s a long way to go with testing ahead of the season and a very long racing season after that - with 20 races - so things can change! We’ve only made the first step today, but we had a reliable day and can be very proud of what we have achieved so far.”

Force India's new reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg was second in the team's 2010 car, the VJM03. Former Williams racer Hulkenberg completed 71 laps and ended the day just under two-tenths down on Vettel. He handed the car over to the team’s new race driver, Paul di Resta, in the late afternoon. Scottish Di Resta finished in fourth after covering 28 laps. He will continue to test on Wednesday.

"Our strategy for this test was to use the VJM03 to gain our drivers some early season mileage and collect as much data on the Pirelli tyres as possible," explained Force India's circuit engineering director, Dominic Harlow. "Overall we achieved our objectives today, looking at the three compounds available here and with both Nico and Paul driving the car. Fortunately the weather for the coming two days is forecast to remain fairly good and we look forward to continuing with our work over the remaining two days."

Third fastest was McLaren tester Gary Paffett, who fielded an interim version of the MP4-25, ahead of the launch of the team’s new car on Friday. Paffett covered 91 laps, as he carried out an evaluation of the new Pirelli rubber. Lewis Hamilton will be in action for the team on Wednesday.

“The car we ran today ought to allow us to get the right loadings on the Pirellis to understand how they behave,” said Paffett. “Today was about trying to understand the tyres - we established a good baseline and then did some long runs. It’s useful to understand how the tyres go off, and how the balance changes once they do. The medium seems to last the longest and the super-soft the shortest, but that’s exactly what you want from a tyre - and it should lead to different strategies once we start racing.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished fifth after giving the recently-launched F150 its official track debut. Alonso focused his attentions on developing the new car and furthering his understanding of the new Pirelli tyres. He completed 98 laps after a largely trouble-free day and will continue to test on Wednesday.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was sixth quickest following his first day in the new C30. Kobayashi covered 64 laps for the team and finished just ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio who was seventh in Virgin’s 2010 car.

“It was a busy day, with all the little problems you have to look into at this time of the year when testing begins with a brand new car," explained Sauber's technical director James Key. "The important and good thing is we had absolutely no major issues and the car was running well.

"We used the morning for several system checks and some initial set up work. We only used the KERS and the rear wing activation in the afternoon. Tyre degradation was quite high and we will have to keep an eye on that for the remainder of the test. Of course there is plenty of work to do, but we are fine with what we have learned and achieved so far today.”

D’Ambrosio covered 71 laps in the VR-01, sampling the new Pirelli rubber and working through a detailed programme of system evaluation. His new team mate Timo Glock will be in action on Wednesday.

“Today was an excellent day and I was really looking forward to driving the car for the first time as a Formula One driver,” said the Belgian. “It really is an amazing feeling and I’m really excited for the season ahead. I think today was a good start. I’m getting used to the Pirelli tyres and working really well with the team, who are doing a great job. Now I can’t wait for my next day in the car, which will be in Jerez and driving the new MVR-02 car.”

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was eighth in the new R31, which was official launched on Monday. He completed 28 laps. The Russian is expected to hand over the car to his team mate Robert Kubica on Wednesday.

“It’s great to come back for the new season and try the R31 for the first time,” said Petrov. “It was not the perfect day because we had some mechanical problems and we lost a little bit of time, so we did not do many laps. But we did manage to check a lot of systems on the car, which was important for us and it looks like everything is working well. I tried KERS for the first time and it will take me a while to get used to it because it’s clear the driver will be quite busy in the cockpit this year. I also tried out the Pirellis, but it was difficult for me to learn too much because we were not pushing too hard and we mostly did in and out laps.”

Ninth fastest was Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher in the new MGP W02. Schumacher’s team mate Nico Rosberg had debuted the team’s 2011 car in the morning, but the younger German had only completed nine laps when a hydraulics problem interrupted his outing. He eventually finished in the 13th - and last - slot on the timesheets. After the car had been repaired, Schumacher made it out on track to cover 15 laps.

"It felt good to see the MGP W02 finally take to the track after so much hard work from everyone at the factory to prepare the car for this first test," said team principal Ross Brawn. "Michael and Nico felt comfortable and had a good feeling from the car, although we were limited in the mileage that we achieved today.

"We had a hydraulic problem early on which limited Nico's running but were able to change the system to get Michael out for a few laps at the end. The first tests are about focusing on reliability, which admittedly was not great today, and getting the KERS system functioning well. Performance testing will develop over the next month as we get more running under our belts."

Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari finished in tenth in the new STR6. Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, was in action in Williams’ new FW33 and finished in 11th. Barrichello completed 77 laps and will test again on Wednesday morning before handing the car over to new team mate Pastor Maldonado after lunch.

“It’s been a good day in terms of getting through things,” said the Brazilian. “We had a problem with KERS this morning so we didn’t use it in the afternoon. Besides that, everything else on the car is working and we didn’t have any problems with temperatures, pressures and all the systems are working fine. We now plan to do more mileage and setup work tomorrow. The moveable rear wing also worked fine today so all in all a pretty good first day.”

Twelfth quickest was Narain Karthikeyan, who completed 45 laps in HRT’s 2010 car. Karthikeyan spent the day evaluating the Pirelli tyres.

“On our first test of the 2011 season, we are happy to start on one of our home tracks, here in Valencia,” said team principal Colin Kolles. “In the morning, the track was still green but improved during the day. We had a good day and could run out our programme. Narain made no mistakes, and he is still building up his speed. He has to adapt himself again to Formula One, to get used to the high G-forces and to the new Pirelli tyres. We have to analyse the data from today´s testing and I am looking forward to seeing how Narain progresses.”

Testing continues at Valencia on Wednesday, when Lotus are expected to join the fray with their new car.

Unofficial Tuesday test times from Valencia:
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:13.769, 93 Laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:13.938, 71 Laps
3. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:14.292, 91 Laps
4. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:14.461, 28 Laps
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:14.553, 98 Laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:15.621, 64 Laps
7. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Virgin, 1:16.003, 71 Laps
8. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:16.351, 28 Laps
9. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:16.450, 15 Laps
10. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:17.214, 19 Laps
11. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:17.335, 77 Laps
12. Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, 1:18.020, 45 Laps
13. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:19.930, nine Laps

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