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Jerez day one - Massa sets the pace for Ferrari 10 Feb 2011

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain,  Thursday, 10 February 2011 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain,  Thursday, 10 February 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain,  Thursday, 10 February 2011 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain,  Thursday, 10 February 2011 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM04.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain,  Thursday, 10 February 2011

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa topped the timesheets as this week’s four-day Jerez test got underway at the Spanish circuit on Thursday. Massa’s best time, a 1m 20.709s, was over seven tenths of a second faster than the quickest lap from second-placed runner Sergio Perez in the Sauber.

The opening day of the second official pre-season test saw 11 teams in action, with only HRT, who plan to test at Monza from February 14-16, missing. All those running in Jerez showed their support for injured Renault driver Robert Kubica by including get well soon messages on their car liveries.

Massa covered 101 laps in the Italian team’s 2011 car and focused his attentions on set-up work and tyre evaluations. The Brazilian will be on track again on Friday. Perez, meanwhile, completed 94 laps in Sauber’s C30.

“I’m very happy with how the day went," said the Mexican. "We covered a good mileage today and again I learnt a lot. I’m getting more and more confident with all the procedures with the team and the car. I’m looking forward to another busy day tomorrow.”

Red Bull’s Mark Webber finished third in the RB7, ahead of reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo in Toro Rosso’s STR6. Webber will be in action again on Friday.

“It was pretty good today," he said. "There were a few red flags, but we did almost 100 laps and the car ran well. On the performance side I think we’re going okay; it’s very early and you don’t know who’s doing what, but we’re focusing on ourselves and seem to be going in the right direction."

Fourth-placed Ricciardo, who will drive for Toro Rosso in Friday practices at most Grands Prix this season, completed 31 laps.

“Jerez is where I first drove a Formula One car, when I tested for Red Bull Racing at the end of ’09 and the last time I drove an F1 car was last November, again with Red Bull in Abu Dhabi,” said the Australian. “It doesn’t sound like a long time, but three months out of a race car is long enough. It was good to be back in the cockpit.

“Fortunately, I seem to have remembered how to drive! Driving the Toro Rosso for the first time was another exciting experience for me. It went well and I did enough laps this morning to get settled in the cockpit. I also managed to use both of the important new elements, the KERS and the DRS (drag reduction system) which seemed to function as planned and I felt quite comfortable by the end of the morning.”

After lunch, he handed over to Toro Rosso race driver Jaime Alguersuari, who eventually finished in sixth. Alguersuari will be back in action on Friday.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was charged with giving the recently-launched MP4-26 its maiden run and finished fifth in the times. Hamilton carried out several short runs in the morning, running through a number of system checks. The car was then routinely stripped for a more thorough check of the new systems, before the British driver returned to the track for the final hour’s running.

“Today was mainly about checking the car - not the most exciting day, but it was important to make sure everything was running okay,” explained Hamilton. “We didn’t do any particularly long runs, and I wasn’t too aggressive with the car, but we learned a couple of useful things. The car feels good compared to last year’s, which is positive. It feels like a good step over MP4-25.”

Force India’s VJM04 also enjoyed a largely positive debut run, as Adrian Sutil covered 28 laps on his way to seventh.

“A successful first day of testing for the new car - a big well done to all the team,” said Sutil. “Out of the box it runs well and feels generally better than the 2010 car in every area. We had a good baseline set-up and balance, already the car is very smooth, which is always positive as then you can focus on improving performance.

“I've got a good feeling and tomorrow we're going to aim to put in some more laps, longer runs and look at different tyre compounds. It's too early to say where we are, but at this stage in testing I think we can be quite pleased and proud that the hard work everyone back in the factory and wind tunnel has - so far - paid off.”

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov finished in eighth in the R31. Petrov sampled two of Pirelli’s four compounds over his 57 laps, as he continued to evaluate the ca’s aero performance. The Russian will be back in action on Friday.

“Things were much better for me today compared to Valencia and at least we managed to do quite a lot of laps,” he said. “We still lost some time because the car had an oil leak in the middle of the day, but we made the most of the time on track and I managed to do some set-up work in the afternoon.

"At the moment it’s important to understand how the tyres are working and we found there was quite a lot of degradation with the rears, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s difficult to find the right set-up. I also continued using the KERS and moveable wing today and that went well with no issues.”

Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg took up the ninth slot in the MGP W02. Rosberg carried out set-up work, completing longer runs in the afternoon. He covered 67 laps before his programme was cut short by a similar hydraulic issue to the one the team experienced in Valencia. This enabled Mercedes to confirm the source of the problem.

"We had a reasonable day and I was able to complete quite a few laps, which is positive,” said the young German. “It's important for both me and the team to get good mileage and we're really learning about the car all the time. We had a few little issues, which you always expect from a new car, so we just have to keep putting the miles on it.

“The KERS was working well and having more time to get used to the system is a real help; it's not just a question of using the buttons but also understanding the effect of the KERS under braking. We are starting to understand the tyres better and that will be one of the key factors to success over the race weekends."

Tenth place went to Jarno Trulli for Lotus. Trulli completed 54 laps as he carried out set-up work in the T128. Although a small problem limited his running in the afternoon, the Italian was pleased with the team’s progress.

“The car does feel pretty good, but the problem this afternoon limited our total time on track,” he explained. “Despite that we are still where we want to be - close to the midfield and in a car that we still have a lot more to add to. I think there is still a lot more to come from the car so I'm very positive and looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow.”

Virgin’s Timo Glock finished in 11th after he was charged with giving the MVR-02 its debut run. After an initial installation lap, a fuel pressure problem confined the car to the garage until lunchtime. Glock eventually covered 42 laps.

“I was really looking forward to driving the new car for the first time and it’s been an interesting first day,” said the German. “We had a problem in the morning and lost a bit of track time, but when we were up and running we were able to complete a lot of laps in the time we had and collect valuable data.

"It was a little frustrating to have the car in the garage this morning but putting that aside I am feeling positive about what we achieved this afternoon and from that point of view it has been a very good start.”

Pastor Maldonado was the day’s 12th - and final - runner for Williams. Maldonado’s best in the FW33 was over 14 seconds down on fastest man Massa’s time. He only managed to complete 14 laps.

"It has not been a productive day for us I'm afraid," explained Williams technical director Sam Michael. "After the installation lap we had a problem with a bleed screw for the rear wing hydraulic actuator. It is straightforward to correct, however during the day it caused a lot of downtime as we shuffled parts around to get the car out on the track. On the positive side, in the late afternoon we did complete all the aero testing that required the front tyre rake, so that will come off tonight."

Testing will continue at Jerez on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday test times from Jerez:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.709
2. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:21.483
3. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.522
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:21.755
5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:21.914
6. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:22.689
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:23.472
8. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:23.504
9. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:23.963
10. Jarno Trulli, Lotus, 1:24.458
11. Timo Glock, Virgin, 1:25.086
12. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:34.968

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