Felipe Massa set the pace on the third morning of testing at Jerez as Ferrari let loose with its F138 for the first time this week.
Massa has spent the majority of the week completing aero work, but on Thursday bolted on a set of soft tyres and set a 1:17.879, beating Romain Grosjean’s best effort from Wednesday. It was Massa’s third consecutive day in the car but he showed few signs of fatigue as he completed a healthy 48 laps over the course of the morning.
Massa’s nearest rival was Nico Rosberg who set about making up for lost time in the Mercedes after its issues this week. On Tuesday his test day was limited to 14 laps by a wiring loom fault and on Wednesday team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out after a suffering a loss of rear brake pressure. However, by 13:00 on Thursday Rosberg had completed an impressive 69 laps with a best time of 1:19.004.
Third fastest was James Rossiter who completed a full morning in the Force India after a brief outing in the final hour of testing on Wednesday. As the team’s simulator driver, Rossiter is completing mileage this week in order to improve his understanding of this year’s VJM06 before handing the car back to Paul di Resta in the afternoon. During his morning session he misjudged his braking coming back to the pits and hit one of his pit crew, but fortunately the mechanic escaped serious injury with nothing more than a few bruises.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest on his first return to the cockpit this year, setting a 1:19.539 just before lunch. He spent most of the morning getting comfortable in the new car and completing aero tests before he started to clock flying laps. By 13:00 he had only managed 19 laps but was out on track at the time and continuing to rack up his mileage.
Jenson Button was back in the cockpit of the McLaren for the second time this week and finished the morning fifth fastest with a 1:19.603, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The reigning world champion got his first taste of the new Red Bull and had a productive morning, completing 41 laps with a best time of 1:19.676.
Jean Eric Vergne was seventh fastest ahead of Sauber’s new rookie Esteban Gutierrez who completed an impressive 61 laps on his first morning in his new job. Valtteri Bottas was another rookie in action and he also got straight down to work, completing 58 laps between 09:00 and 13:00. As with Pastor Maldonado earlier in the week, Bottas was driving last year’s Williams FW34 and by his lunch break had a best time of 1:21.578.
Marussia and Caterham were again at the bottom of the timesheets with Max Chilton back in the cockpit for the first time since his accident on Tuesday. He completed 27 laps with a best time of 1:23.938 ahead of ex-Marussia driver Charles Pic who started his first day in the new Caterham. However, Pic stopped on track with a technical issue in the morning and completed just 28 laps by 13:00.
Times at 13:00
|1.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F138||1:17.879||48|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W04||1:19.004||69|
|3.||James Rossiter||Force India VJM06||1:19.303||32|
|4.||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus E21||1:19.539||19|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren MP4-28||1:19.539||27|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull RB9||1:19.676||41|
|7.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso STR8||1:19.707||46|
|8.||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber C32||1:19.995||61|
|9.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams FW34||1:21.578||58|
|10.||Max Chilton||Marussia MR02||1:23.938||27|
|11.||Charles Pic||Caterham CT03||1:25.365||28|