F1 winter testing: Jerez day 1

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF15-T, Jerez

Sebastian Vettel has started his Ferrari career on a high after setting the fastest time (1:22.620) on the opening day of pre-season testing in Jerez.

Ferrari power proved strong, with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson going second fastest (1:22.777). You get the sense though, even this early on, that Mercedes is just playing with its rivals. Nico Rosberg completed 157 laps, more than Vettel and Ericsson combined, and bossed the morning session setting the quickest time and third best overall (1:23.106).

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest (1:23.338) in the RB11. The young Aussie completed 35 laps and his day ended in the afternoon due to an undisclosed technical glitch.

“We got going pretty well this morning and I got a few laps under my belt,” said Daniel. “I can feel a step forward. I won’t go into too much detail but it’s there. We didn’t do a whole lot of laps but definitely more than at this test last year!”

Red Bull can expect a much closer relationship with engine provider Renault in 2015 now that it is in effect Renault’s sole customer, in conjunction with its junior Toro Rosso team.

Valtteri Bottas tallied up a handy 73 laps for Williams and posted the fifth best time (1:23.906). Carlos Sainz Jr finished his first full day on track as an F1 driver with the sixth fastest lap (1:25.327) in the STR10.

The slowest time of the day was left to Fernando Alonso (1:40.738) who was well off the pace in the McLaren-Honda. The dual world champ managed just six laps and it’s likely to be a difficult pre-season for the MP4-30.

Force India has chosen to delay its first pre-season appearance until Barcelona (19 February). Meanwhile, Lotus is trackside in Jerez and says it expects to debut its E23 on Tuesday.

Unofficial testing times from Jerez (Day 1):

1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – 1:22.620 (60 laps)
2. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber – 1:22.777 (73 laps)
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes – 1:23.106 (157 laps)
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1:23.338 (35 laps)
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams – 1:23.906 (73 laps)
6. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso – 1:25.327 (46 laps)
7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren – 1:40.738 (6 laps)

[Source: Formula1.com]