Typically chilly conditions greeted the paddock for the first test of the year in southern Spain on Tuesday, with Marussia and Caterham’s car presentations preceding the eagerly anticipated occasion. Ignoring the weather, all eleven drivers were quick to venture out onto the circuit and set about completing their extensive pre-Melbourne programmes.
Despite his pace-setting time, Button did not have it all his own way on Tuesday. A fuel-pump issue, which also caused problems for McLaren in 2012, presented itself just three laps into the MP4-28’s first fully-fledged run. This brought out the first red flag of the day and left Button stuck in his pit garage until the afternoon session.
Nico Rosberg was quick to stamp his authority on the field after Button’s failure, but a section of bodywork at the rear of the new F1 W04 burst into flames and scuppered his plans for the rest of the day. The German caused the second stoppage at 10am local time (GMT +1), before Mercedes ended its day early to work on a wiring loom fix.
As the day wore on, Rosberg slipped down the order to eighth, with Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa and Nico Hülkenberg all enjoying trouble-free days to lock-out fourth to seventh positions. Pastor Maldonado wound up ninth after his tyre-orientated day, completing 84 laps at the wheel of the Williams FW34. The Venezuelan and team-mate Valtteri Bottas will have to wait until the second test to drive their new car, but the outfit did at least reveal its 2013 livery at Jerez.
Giedo van der Garde finished just over three seconds behind Button’s MP4-28 en route to tenth, while Britain’s Max Chilton suffered a suspension failure at the wheel of Marussia’s MR02 to bring out the third and final red flag of the day, leaving him 11th.