2011 Mercedes ends on a high
THE dynamic of the 2012 Mercedes GP and how quick it goes will be interesting when it is launched next week. That is because for the second day running, the 2011 machine ended up top of the timesheets, this time in the hands of Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg completed 118 laps, setting the fastest time of the week so far in Jerez, with a time of 1.17.613. It dislodged GP2 champion Romain Grosjean from the top. Grosjean, taking over from Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus Renault team was quickest this morning and certainly looked comfortable all day, as Lotus solid start to winter testing continued.
This was the day when some of the major players took to the track for the first time. Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso all returned to action following the winter break and both Vettel and Hamilton stayed out of trouble, setting consistent times and getting good mileage under their belts. The world champion was third fastest, only 0.2secs quicker than the Brit in his McLaren. Alonso was down in seventh on another very quiet day for Ferrari. His cause wasn’t helped by a hydraulic problem, which left the Spaniard in the garage for the first two hours this morning. With vibes coming from within the media of Felipe Massa saying that a lot of work is required, the Scuderia already look on the backfoot.
It wasn’t quite as bad as Jules Bianchi, who spun his Force India into the barriers early this morning, seriously disrupting what had been an excellent week for the team so far. Bianchi, who is reserve driver for the Silverstone based team told Sky Sports; “I made a small mistake on my second run. The tyres were a bit cold and I spun into the gravel and touched the wall with the right rear wheel. It was not a very big impact, but it caused some damage. I’m very sorry because my mistake has cost the team a lot of time and effort.” He would have to apologise to Nico Hulkenberg, who had been due to make his 2012 bow this afternoon, but was left to twiddle his thumbs, whilst the team flew out replacement parts from their UK base. Hulkenberg has to wait until tomorrow now to make his first impact of the season.
One more day of this test remains and if the 2011 Mercedes, which let’s be honest, was a poor car has ended on a high, expectations will rise of a potential assault on the championship if these times are anything to go by.
TESTING TIMES – DAY 3 FROM JEREZ
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) 1.17.613 – 118 laps
2. Romain Grosjean (Lotus Renault) 1.18.419 – 117 laps
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault) 1.19.297 – 96 laps
4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) 1.19.464 – 80 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne (Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari) 1.19.734 – 79 laps
6. Sergio Perez (Sauber Ferrari) 1.19.770 – 48 laps
7. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1.20.412 – 67 laps
8. Bruno Senna (Williams Renault) 1.21.293 – 125 laps
9. Gio Van der Garde (Caterham Renault) 1.23.324 – 74 laps
10. Jules Bianchi (Force India Mercedes) – NO TIME