Kevin Magnussen made a great start to his official F1 career by topping the times for McLaren in Jerez
Once again it was a day of mixed fortunes for the teams, with Red Bull enduring another disaster while others successfully logged a lot of laps. Daniel Ricciardo completed only three laps in the RB10, without actually recording a time, before his team gave up for the day.
Jenson Button, who was fastest Wednesday, drove the McLaren for the first part of the day before Magnussen took over. The Danish rookie added 52 laps to the 40 already logged by his teammate.
“This was a big day for me,” he said. “I had butterflies in my stomach, and had trouble sleeping last night – I’m a rookie, and I was just excited to get in the car. Equally, however, this doesn’t feel like my first day at work. I know everybody at McLaren, so I really felt at home. Happily, everything worked as it should, and the car felt good. I’m pretty pleased with our reliability – to have done as many laps as I did in just half a day was pretty positive.
“I’m not taking too much from the fact that I set the fastest time – I was pushing, but it wasn’t a balls-to-the-wall lap. We wanted to get good data and learn about the car, so I think everyone is pushing out there. Even so, I still think we can improve the car this week. And the most important thing is to understand how to improve things when we go away from here. I think we have a good idea of the direction to take.”
Felipe Massa had his first day in the Williams, which was also his first day ever in a car not powered by a Ferrari after all his years with Sauber and the works team. He ran 47 laps and finished the day with the second fastest time.
“It was a new experience for me today,” said the Brazilian. “The first day with a new car is always very exciting but adding to that changing teams, all the new faces and the new place, it made it even more exciting for me. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the amount of laps we wanted to do today, but it’s pretty acceptable for the first days of testing considering all the rule changes with the car. The car feels very different to what we used to have in many areas. You need to understand how to drive with the engine, the chassis, the tires and the turbo, but it’s fun!”
It was another solid day for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton returned to the car and completed 62 laps – fewer than Nico Rosberg managed Wednesday but nevertheless a useful haul. He set the third-fastest time, ahead of Button.
“At the moment we’re definitely happy,” said Hamilton. “We’ve shown the strength within this team through all the hard work that’s gone into getting the car here, bouncing back from the issue on Tuesday and then going out there and following up 97 laps yesterday with a further 62 today; it’s a huge accomplishment for everyone involved.
“Proving reliability at this stage is crucial and every lap is precious, as this is going to be a seriously challenging year for every team. I’m feeling very positive after these tests and every day on track is another step forwards, but there are so many challenges ahead of us in the coming weeks and months that we just have to take those steps one at a time.”
Fernando Alonso made his first appearance in the Ferrari, and reporting that he found the car little different to drive compared with last year, set the fifth-fastest time.
Force India had a difficult day as Nico Hulkenberg completed only 17 laps. Test driver Dani Juncadella is due to drive Friday.
After struggling for much of the week, Jean-Eric Vergne gave Toro Rosso and, more importantly, Renault 30 valuable laps, although the Frenchman was over 6s off the frontrunning pace.
“It was still a difficult day,” said Vergne. “But I’d say a lot more positive than the previous two. In fact, it was a massive step forward. Towards the end, we were able to complete a few laps with the power unit running well. I am pleased with the work done by the team, especially on the Renault side. After yesterday, everyone stayed calm and identified the problem. I believe we now have a good basis on which to work overnight so that tomorrow we can make even more progress.”
Adrian Sutil drove the Sauber for the first time, and damaged the front end after he was caught out on cold tires.
1 Kevin Magnussen McLaren - Mercedes - 1m 23.276s 52 laps
2 Felipe Massa - Williams - 1m 23.700s 47 laps
3 Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1m 23.952s 62 laps
4 Jenson Button - McLaren Mercedes – 1m 25.030s 40 laps
5 Fernando Alonso - Ferrari – 1m 25.495s 58 laps
6 Nico Hulkenberg - Force India – 1m 26.096s 17 laps
7 Jean Eric Vergne - Scuderia Toro Rosso – 1m 29.915s 30 laps
8 Adrian Sutil - Sauber – 1m 30.161s 24 laps
9 Robin Frijns - Caterham – 10 laps
10 Max Chilton - Marussia – 5 laps
11 Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing – 3 laps