The cars trundled out onto the 4.4km Circuito de Jerez, pretty much as soon as the lights turned green, with only Toro Rosso electing to stay in the garage. It was Sebastian Vettel who was once more the first out on track, whilst the sun dawdled in its climb above the hills which create the amphitheatre that is the Autodromo..
With track and ambient temperatures a lowly 3° C, lap times were predictably high, as Hamilton and Nasr traded signature lap times at the top of chart. Not wanting to miss out, Sebastian Vettel got in amongst the action and slotted into second place. Eventually, Max Verstappen emerged in his STR10 leaving only Lotus the who had not done so. Word around the paddock was that they would be out running for the first time in 2015 towards the early afternoon.
The MP4-30, today being driven by 2009 World Champion Jenson Button, continued to cause concern for those in Woking as it sounded more like a baby’s rattle being thrown about. A return to the garage required, therefore it was left to Max Verstappen and Felipe Nasr to warm the tarmac, though cloud cover would limit this. Track temperature lingered at 8.9° C for the first hour.
Pirelli have brought a special ‘Winter Hard’ tyre for this Jerez test, much like as is done for Moto GP and other biking series which run with different rubber at Jerez. The Winter Hard is not part of the P Zero range available for the 2015 Grand Prix, as it is a unique design to reduce graining.
The following hour was a fairly sombre affair as teams settled into long runs on the ‘Winter Hard’ tyres. One would be forgiven for not being enthralled by the action on track, as the Ferrari demos around the circuit complex attracted those on the ground. Lewis Hamilton continued to build on the fast start by clocking up 73 laps by 1pm local time, alternating flow visibility paint around the rear of the car.
Ferrari worked on their 2015 car, breaking into the 1:20s. Already over 2 seconds quicker than last year’s best time at Jerez, the prancing horse sought to prove the advancement these cars have made. The Tifosi will be content to see the powertrains woes of 2014 have been addressed, not escaping the eagled-eyed Craig Scarborough.
News that will bring hope to those who follow the Maranello team.
Despite the basic livery on the car, Felipe Nasr continued the good work of Marcus Ericsson by setting consistent, but slow laps. The overcast conditions not proving conducive to any kind of meaningful tyre running here, as was to be expected. I took a walk trackside to listen to the difference with the cars this year and, in most cases, was pleasantly surprised.
When we consider that these are not powertrains on full power, Honda rumoured to be limited as low as 20% power, they are a leap forward of unimaginable proportions. The new Japanese unit sounded even worse than it had previously when Button remerged from the pits for a short stint at midday. However, as the man from Frome had stated previously, this test would a case of work in progress.
To even the most unlearned fan the Mercedes powered cars were looking supreme around the fast turn 4 and into the straight after 5. For any fan who wishes to see the cars in action Jerez comes highly recommended. The views of the circuit from the tower in the centre of the circuit are fantastic, as the circuit is set into the natural amphitheatre between the hills. The opportunity to see the cars at a price that will not break the bank is well worth the trip.
One further point of note for the morning is the lack of front wing on the Red Bull. As TJ13 reported yesterday, one was being flown out here and will be ready shortly. Perhaps merely a coincidence or an exercise in PR, the wing seemed to break at a fortuitous moment. The new wing will be a 2015 spec one, not one which was designed for the RB10 as was the previous design.