“You cannot look at car performance on the first day, when reliability and comfort are more important and, on that front, my seat and driving position were good. So this was a day of tasks that were relatively simple, but also important.”
Felipe Massa hauled Italy's 'other' team into sixth spot by the end of the day, having been clocked 1.3secs off the pace. Although the gap was bigger than that by the chequered flag, it was largely due to Button's flying effort stretching the field from the front. The entire day was given over almost entirely to acquiring data relating to the behaviour of the new car which, after the disappointing start to 2012, Massa reported positively on. The Brazilian continues behind the wheel on Wednesday, while team-mate Fernando Alonso
sends tweets from the gym.
Both Massa and Nico Hulkenberg
continued to trail the hobbled Rosberg until late in the day, but passed the German in tandem before the end.
Like Rosberg, Pastor Maldonado
did not improve on his morning time as the Williams
team concentrated on systems and set-up ahead of next week's FW35 launch. Driving the only 2012-spec car in the field, Maldonado completed 84 laps, second only to di Resta.
“We had no problems today and the car felt very consistent so we were able to learn a lot, which will be useful for the FW35 development,” the Venezuelan reported, “We planned to run the FW34 to enable us to have a reliable car to test the new tyres with and also try some different set-ups.”
Between Maldonado and Chilton came Giedo van der Garde in the new Caterham. The Dutchman was only confirmed as part of the line-up on Friday and helped to unveil the CT03 in the pit-lane immediately before the track opened for action.
"It's obviously far too early to make any judgements on the performance levels we can expect from the 2013 package but, compared to the car I drove in Brazil, it feels like we've made some good progress over the winter,” van der Garde noted, “Tomorrow will be more of the same for us - running through more procedures and a few set-up options across the range of tyres we have available here and hopefully getting as many laps in as possible."