Sebastien Vettel was the fastest man in Jerez again today, as pre-season testing resumed for the second day in Spain. The Ferrari driver set a time that was two seconds quicker than the fastest lap he set yesterday, on a 1:20.984. The Sauber of Felipe Nasr was just eight tenths off that time, with the Williams of Valterri Bottas a second and a half off on a 1:22.319.
The session started pretty much like it did yesterday, with most of the teams including Lotus venturing out to do their installation laps to see if all of their systems worked. However whilst everyone was able to come back to the pits without damage, the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat returned with a damaged front wing.
According to Christian Horner Kvyat had the off somewhere on the circuit when he was changing something on his steering wheel with cold tyres, and because the team didn’t have a spare front wing for him, he was forced to complete the entire session with just the nosecone section attached to the front of the car.
Whilst it is perhaps a testament to how much downforce that Red Bull actually has, it seems the damage did curtail the learning curve for Kvyat who of course joins the team without a yardstick to compare as the team were only able to complete some aero and engine-map testing.
Meanwhile the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was again showing the runaway pace that they exhibited yesterday with the Briton completing 92 laps today. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for him though, as a water leak from a failed part ended his session two hours before the session was due to end, making it the third year in a row that he has been forced to end a his first test session of the year early due to a car-related issue.
His consistency was still somewhat similar to Rosberg’s though, with his times ranging between the mid 1:22’s, low 1:23’s in the parts of the session he did running. He ended the session fourth fastest on a 1:22.490, 1.5 seconds off the fastest time set by Vettel.
Although the Mercedes was getting more milage, Vettel managed to do over 50 laps today and set some quick lap times on the Medium tyre. He also set some consistent lap times, with his ranging from high 1:21’s to low 1:22’s throughout his Medium runs.
One team which didn’t get too much running again today though was McLaren. After eventually getting out two hours into the session, Jenson Button had completed a total of nine laps after getting plagued with issues on his first couple of runs. The team were reportedly fixing a small problem with some subsidiary hardware which governs the engine for most of the session, and whilst they did get it fixed and ready to for him to be sent out, light rain then interrupted the circuit and McLaren abandoned the day.
Elsewhere we saw some good pace from the Williams of Valtteri Bottas which managed around 20 laps at the halfway mark, and from both Sauber and Toro Rosso. Both Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen did running on Pirelli’s new wet tyre lineup during the closing stages, clocking times which were around 20 seconds slower than the fastest time set by Vettel in the morning. The Ferrari driver also ventured out to set a lap time on Intermediates which ended up being 16 seconds off his best when he was on the Mediums.
Finally Lotus managed to get some running in today with Pastor Maldonado, and whilst they completed around 10 laps before the lunch break, the first and only red flag of the session came out due to the team after Maldonado stopped on track in the final sector.
So its another day really where Mercedes show their overwhelming consistency and Ferrari their pretty good one-lap pace. Whilst there isn’t much to read from the timesheet, what today does show is the relative consistency of the Ferrari vs the Mercedes on what is presumably race runs, and that despite all their pace Mercedes still haven’t got on the small issues that plagued them during last season.
Testing resumes tomorrow.