Sebastian Vettel has begun life with Ferrari in the best possible fashion by finishing fastest on the first day pre-season testing in Jerez today.
The German driver was the first man out of the pit lane on Sunday morning in Spain, starting as he meant to go on. He ultimately finished with a best time of 1:22.620, one-tenth of a second clear of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Defending world champions Mercedes may not have topped the timesheets on the first day of testing, but Nico Rosberg undoubtedly put in the performance of the day. With a mammoth 157 laps to his name, the German proved that the quest to improve the reliability of the W06 Hybrid has been successful so far.
In fourth, Daniel Ricciardo gave the camouflage-liveried Red Bull a solid baptism in a far cry from the team’s performance last year. In the entirety of the test at Jerez last year, the former world champions completed just 21 laps; just today, the Australian managed 35, finishing with a best time of 1:23.338. However, his day was cut short when his car began emitting smoke during the afternoon, forcing him to pit.
Despite a late start, Valtteri Bottas managed to finish fifth for Williams, sixth tenths of a second behind Ricciardo. In his first test of the year, F1 rookie Carlos Sainz Jr. finished sixth for Toro Rosso.
The surprise name propping up the timesheets was Fernando Alonso, who in his first McLaren drive since November 2007 could complete just six laps in the Honda-powered MP4-30. However, the Spaniard was pleased with his day of running, tweeting that he felt proud of the team.
Primeras vueltas. Gran orgullo conducir un #McLarenHonda . #MakeHistory First laps. So proud of my team. #happy pic.twitter.com/DQPdaodCMY
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) February 1, 2015
In a stark contrast to the test in Jerez last year, very few teams encountered major issues with their cars. Ferrari’s lap count may have been higher had it not been for a number of small problems on Vettel’s SF15-T, whilst McLaren is clearly still getting to grips with its new car. In total, there were only two red flags: one for Sainz and one for Ericsson. For starters though, F1 2015 is looking a great deal more reliable.
Testing resumes in Jerez tomorrow. You can see the full line-up here. Lotus will also be joining the test, with the E23 Hybrid not arriving in time to get out on track today.
Jerez Day 1 – Final Results
1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:22.620 (60 laps)
2. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:22.777 (73)
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.106 (157)
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.338 (35)
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.906 (73)
6. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1:25.327 (46)
7. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:40.738 (6)