F1 Testing Begins At Jerez

Photo courtesy Sahara Force India Formula 1

Photo courtesy Sahara Force India Formula 1

They've revealed the new cars for the 2012 season and now's the time for the Formula One circus to show how they work in the real world of testing.

Formal practice began today at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, with a total of 12 drivers taking to the circuit in both morning and afternoon sessions.  By the end of the day - and all testing times are unofficial - Kimi Raikkonen set the quickest time in 75 total laps, at 1:19.670 in the new Lotus E20.  

Although the Finn hasn't driven a new-style F1 car for two seasons of competition, that was no deterrent to the 2007 World Champion.  "It was a positive first day of testing and everything went almost to plan," Raikkonen said.  "We had no major issues and I got a good feel for the car and the tires.  The [Pirelli] tires were more of a challenge in the afternoon when we ran with a scrubbed set, but overall it was a positive day."

Raikkonen believes, as everyone does, that today's times really don't matter.  Neither will any other test times, but it's still nice to sit atop any timing pylon - whether official or not.  "I did more than a race distance today and did not have any physical problems at all, which is good," Raikkonen admitted.

Sophomore Paul Di Resta took the VJM05-02 chassis to second place in his 101 laps of testing at 1:19.72.  The Sahara Force India Team conducted system checks, data collection and setup work.  "A good start to our winter test program with 101 laps completed, which allowed us to get through all our objectives and a bit more.  The baseline balance felt pretty good and the car performed consistently over the longer runs, which was useful for collecting the data we need," he said.

Nico Rosberg was this for Mercedes AMG at 1:20.219 in 56 laps, followed by Mark Webber with Red Bull Racing, turning 1:20.496.  After a delayed started in the RB8 Webber said of the car's debut, "It was good.  I felt quite comfortable quite quickly - but - it's early days.  We had a small delay this morning with a part due to fog at the airport and it's never part of the plan to give up running time, but you can't control mother nature."  He completed 54 laps.

Photo courtesy Red Bull Racing

Photo courtesy Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo made his Scuderia Toro Rosso debut in 57 laps, coming fifth at 1:20.694, and just missing being within a mile per hour of the leader.  "It was really nice to be back in the cockpit for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix and being the first person to drive the STR7 was a little bonus.  In the afternoon we did a couple of longer runs but had to cut it short, although we only lost an hour."  The team reported a loss of oil pressure, "At which point the engine protector did its job and stopped the car," said Franz Tost.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was sixth for Mercedes at 1:20.794 in 41 laps and Kamui Kobayashi took seventh for Sauber at 1:21.353, completing 106 tours of the circuit, the most of any driver today.  Of the new C31 the Japanese ace said, "The new car feels fine.  We managed good mileage today despite a small problem in the morning session.  Running today wasn't about performance but focused on checking systems and reliability."

Photo courtesy Sauber F1 Team

Photo courtesy Sauber F1 Team

Jenson Button was eighth for McLaren after 60 laps, turning 1:21.530.  After performing installation and systems checks, "The running was good.  We've been gathering data on aerodynamics, downforce levels, temperatures and the feeling inside the cockpit," he said.

Felipe Massa (1:22.815) was ninth for Ferrari completing 69 laps, Heikki Kovalainen took 10th for Caterham at 1:23.178 after 28 laps, Pastor Maldonado took to the FW34 after a pit lane reveal, turning 1:23.371 in 25 laps and stating, "It feels great to be back with the team and to start putting some mileage on the FW34.  The car felt good and the systems were all working well.  I like the feel of the new Renault engine as well," he said.

Pedro de la Rosa was the final driver to test today, turning 44 laps in HRT's 2011 car and marking a best lap of 1:23.676.

The Formula 1 teams continue to test at Jerez on Wednesday with different drivers at the helm of some of the new cars.

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