JEREZ, Spain — official series release — Dan Istitene/Getty Images Europe photo —
Sebastian Vettel maintained his and Ferrari’s encouraging start to preseason testing by going fastest on the second day of running at Jerez on Monday.
The four-time world champion, also quickest on the opening day, set a new overall benchmark of 1:20.984 to finish almost one second clear of the chasing pack.
Proceedings were brought to a slightly early close as a rain storm hit the track, although Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen – both entering their first season in Formula One racing – were among those who ventured out in the wet conditions.
It was Nasr who ultimately got closest to Vettel, putting Sauber second with a lap of 1:21.867. That left him half a second clear of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and the Mercedes of 2014 world champion Lewis Hamilton.
“It was a great day,” Nasr reflected. “I was able to complete a lot of laps, and I was happy with everything I saw. I was getting used to the systems, the procedures and the characteristics of the car. Now we can start working on the details.”
Hamilton was able to clock up 91 laps, the most of any driver, as Mercedes once again demonstrated impressive reliability – although a water leak from a failed component brought his day to a slightly premature finish.
Verstappen was fifth fastest, 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton, while Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado and McLaren’s Jenson Button rounded out the top seven.
Lotus had initially played down their chances of running before the third day of the test as they finalized the build program of their E23 Hybrid. They were able to join the fray early in the morning however, with Maldonado eventually racking up 41 laps.
McLaren’s progress was more limited, as a recurring problem confined Button to the garage for much of the day. The team did emerge in the final minutes, but only for a sedate out-lap. Button therefore ended the day with six laps – matching what 2015 team mate Fernando Alonso managed on day one – and an unrepresentative best time of 1m 54.655s, more than 30s down on Vettel.
Daniil Kvyat was the eighth and final runner for Red Bull, although the Russian did not set a time on his first day in the RB11 after damaging the front wing in an early spin. With no replacement, Kvyat had the unusual task of completing several installation runs with no front wing.
“Sometimes mistakes happen and there’s nothing you can do about them,” Kvyat said. “After that we tried to maximise our day, not having spare parts to replace the wing. We still maximized our running with what we had and hopefully we can recover from that.”
The only team absent from the time sheets was Force India, who opted to skip the first test completely while they develop their new car.
Testing continues at Jerez on Tuesday.