Button leads Jerez Day 2; Renaults have issues

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Jenson Button posted the fastest time on the second day of Formula One’s opening four-day test at Jerez, but reliability and limited running remained the bigger story compared to times.

For what it was worth though, Button’s quickest time was nearly three seconds faster than the best posted by Kimi Raikkonen on Tuesday. Button clocked in at 1:24.165 after 43 laps of running in the McLaren MP4-29, compared to Raikkonen’s 1:27.104.

Additionally, it was a good sign for McLaren to get out after electrical issues blighted their day on Tuesday.

Raikkonen was second with a 1:24.812 after 47 laps aboard the Ferrari F14 T. Valtteri Bottas logged 35 in the Williams Fw36 at 1:25.344, with Nico Rosberg fourth at 1:25.588 in the new Mercedes.

Rosberg’s 97 laps Wednesday were four more than the combined total for the field on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Renault was left to go back to the drawing board after a frustrating day, with a suspected energy-storing issue.

Sebastian Vettel turned only eight laps in the RB10, with an unrepresentative fast time.

“We’ve not had a lot of running and have a few problems to sort out, but with such big rule changes it’s usual to have teething problems. That’s what tests are for, to sort those issues out,” said the four-time defending World Champion.

F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson’s day wasn’t much better as he posted only 11 laps in the new Caterham CT05.

Toro Rosso didn’t run at all, and Marussia failed to make it out of the garage with its yet-to-be-officially-unveiled MR03. Lotus, of course, isn’t at the test at all.

Some driver changes will occur for Thursday’s running, as teams continue to work through the development and niggling issues on their new cars.

1. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:24.165, 43 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.812, 47 
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes, 1:25.344, 35
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:25.588, 97
5. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes, 1:28.376, 37
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, 1:33.270, 53
7. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham-Renault, 1:37.975, 11
8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1:38.320, 8

F1 2017 driver review: Carlos Sainz Jr.

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Carlos Sainz Jr.

Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 54
Championship Position: 9th

Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.

Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.

Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.

Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.

Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.

Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.

Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.