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Vettel tops opening day at Jerez

Sebastian Vettel produced a dominant display on the opening day of Formula One testing to set the quickest time as the latest group test kicked off at Jerez.

Following on from the team's private test session at Valencia last week, the young German posted a quickest time of 1min 19.055secs from his 87 laps to end the day more than a second clear of second placed Felipe Massa; despite numerous red flags halting proceedings on regular intervals and rain showers after lunch.

Vettel was the only driver to dip below the 1min 20sec marker with Massa's best tour of the Spanish venue stopping the clock at 1min 20.330secs. The Brazilian completed 63 laps as he worked on set-up of the F60 and reliability testing, although he was forced to take an extended break shortly after midday after running after off track. The F60 wasn't damaged in the incident.

Behind Massa, Toyota test driver Kamui Kobayashi was third quickest as the Japanese driver continued to put more miles on the TF109, running through a programme focused on aerodynamic evaluations before he hands the car over to Timo Glock tomorrow.

"This morning was my first real chance to try out the TF109 in dry conditions,” Kobayashi said afterwards. “From the first run the car felt easy to drive so we were able to get straight into our programme of aero work. It certainly feels like a step forward from last year. The shower interrupted our afternoon but we still made it through our programme. Overall it went well so this was a good day of testing for us."

Nico Rosberg was fourth quickest for Williams while Robert Kubica slotted into fifth place for BMW Sauber. The Pole spent his day testing the 2010 specification Bridgestone tyres, with the aim being to provide engineers with feedback on next year's rubber, although his time on track was affected by a precautionary engine change during the morning after sensors indicated a problem.

When the rain showers arrived, his programme then changed to race start simulations, meaning Kubica completed just 47 laps over the course of the day.

“Unfortunately I couldn't drive as many laps as planned,” he said. “In the afternoon the session was interrupted by five red flags and the changing weather. Because of this I expect a very busy day tomorrow.”

Giancarlo Fisichella was sixth quickest in the first run on track for Force India's new VJM02 (More HERE), while Pedro de la Rosa was seventh as he, like Kubica, worked on the 2010 specification tyre – which won't be pre-heated in blankets prior to being fitted to the car. He completed more laps than anyone else, despite his session being halted with ten minutes remaining when the car stopped on track with an oil pressure problem.

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Henry - Unregistered

March 02, 2009 10:52 AM

ITS TESTING!!!! Vettel did a flying lap, his race pace was merely comparable with everyone else. Plus his engine 'expired', a newey cooling trademark :p Mclaren and BMW were busy testing 2010 tyres - no tyre warmers!! Im sure Mclaren and Ferrari will be VERY strong but becasue of the cost cutting rules teams cant develop during the season like theyve been able to do in the past. Id love to see the racical rb5 at the front but when melbourne arrives im sure we'll see the usually protaganists at the front

rich ard

March 02, 2009 8:03 AM

i know that we cannot read too much into testing times, but it does look as if mclaren and ferrari will have tough opposition from vettel/RBR. RBR have good reliability whereas the other two are having problems. maybe in melbourne we will see mclaren and ferrari "crash and burn" (not literally!) and RBR and BMW picking up the points instead. but things should revert to normal by the middle of the season. it will be nice to have a few extra contenders for victory.

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