JEREZ, Spain – Jenson Button bounced back from an early setback to ensure that McLaren ended the first day of pre-season Formula One testing in Spain on top.
The day began badly for the 2009 world champion as his new McLaren MP4-28 ground to a halt after just three laps at Jerez, bringing out the red flag. The car was returned to the pits on the back of a truck with the team later confirming that a fuel pump problem had caused the stoppage.
With the problem fixed, Button was able to have a much more positive afternoon and ended the day having completed 37 laps, with his timesheet-topping lap set on Pirelli’s new orange-striped hard compound tyres.
Second fastest was Mark Webber for reigning champions Red Bull. Driving the new RB9 the Australian had a largely trouble-free day, completing an impressive 73 laps.
Marginally slower than Webber was Romain Grosjean in Lotus’s E21. The Frenchman set the pace in the morning and was unable to better his time in the afternoon. Paul di Resta, fourth fastest for Force India, also set his fastest time of the day in the morning. The new VJM06 showed impressive reliability as the Scot completed 89 laps – the most of the day.
Behind Di Resta was Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo in the STR8 who was marginally quicker in than Felipe Massa in the Ferrari F138. The Scuderia spent nearly the entire day acquiring data relating to the behaviour of their new car.
New Sauber recruit Nico Hulkenberg completed 79 laps in the Sauber C32 – considerably more than the 14 fellow German Nico Rosberg managed in the Mercedes F1 W04.
As new teammate Lewis Hamilton looked on, Rosberg stopped out on track with smoke coming from the rear of the car. Mercedes later confirmed that an electrical fault had caused the stoppage and modifications to a wiring loom meant that Rosberg would be forced to sit out the rest of the day.
Pastor Maldonado had a productive day in a revised version of Williams’ 2012 car, the FW34, completing 84 laps and posting a time marginally faster than those of F1 rookies Giedo van der Garde (in the newly-unveiled Caterham CT03) and Max Chilton (in Marussia’s MR02).