F1 » 7 February 2013
Massa sets day three benchmark at Jerez
As in previous days, Button's morning kicked off with further aero evaluation work, conducted over a number of shorter runs. The McLaren team then ran through a suite of larger mechanical changes in order to understand key changes in set-up, and these were fully evaluated over a series of longer runs throughout the afternoon.
The team also conducted a number of live pit-stops during the afternoon's running, but made a precautionary stop on the track during the session's dying minutes, thought to be for a loose wheel.
The next four places were filled by drivers with a combined total of 20 grands prix between them, as rookies Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton and Valtteri Bottas slotted in ahead of Charles Pic. Gutierrez, Bottas and Pic were all getting their first taste of action in 2013, while Chilton returned to the cockpit of the lone Marussia after his opening day run was ended by an accident.
Gutierrez emerged as the fastest of the quartet after clocking up an impressive 110 laps in the Sauber. The Mexican had had to watch as new team-mate Nico Hulkenberg spent the first two days working on the car, but was soon replicating the German's times.
Chilton's day ended with a late spurt that allowed him to move up into ninth spot overall, but a few difficulties with the on-board electronics gave rise to a slightly broken programme, so the early part of the race distance work was rather stilted as a result of time spent in the garage. Problems resolved, the afternoon saw Chilton complete the race distance work before heading into the performance programme that resulted in the youngster finding time in the MR02.
"I'm really pleased with how my second day in the car has gone and I'm happy to have been able to reveal a little more of the car's potential,” he confirmed, “Obviously these are very early days for all of us, but there are some very positive signs and I'm excited about that.”
Bottas, meanwhile, was in familiar surroundings, taking over the 2012-spec FW34 that he drove regularly last year from Pastor Maldonado. The Finn was also able to get good mileage under his belt, notching up 86 laps.
“It was my first day as an official race driver today and it's been a long wait,” Bottas admitted, “Since the announcement last year, I've been looking forward to this day and it's great to finally get the season underway. Everything went as planned and we completed a lot of laps doing both aero and tyre work to gather some good data. It was a great start to 2013.”
Pic, meanwhile, got his first taste of the new Caterham after taking over from rookie team-mate Giedo van der Garde, but was unable to move away from the foot of the times, in part due to a loss of track time during the morning, and was only saved from occupying last spot on the day by di Resta's short-lived return.
"It was very good to get back on track and, for my first day with the team, it's been pretty good,” the Frenchman insisted, “We had a technical issue late in the morning session that stopped the car on track, but the team did a good job to fix it and give me enough time in the afternoon session to complete 57 laps in total.
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