Although it was not Ferrari on top on day three of the Jerez test but it was a Ferrari powered car which topped the timesheets with Felipe Nasr(Sauber) behind the wheels. The Brazilian in only his second day driving a Formula 1 car clocked up the fastest time using the super-soft tyres in the afternoon session. He managed to do 109 laps which does shows a good amount of reliability. Nasr had a spin ear, in what was otherwise a glitch free day for the Braziliab. In fact, most of the teams did decent running with three of the eight teams present managing over 100 laps.
Ferrari continued their top form as Kimi Raikkonen finished second; he ran at a good pace all through the day and was only 0.205s behind Nasr. Both the teams have maintained a good form in terms of reliability and pace (though it's still early days to comment on the latter).
In third was Nico Rosberg and Mercedes; once again the team completed the most number of laps as they lapped 151 times around Jerez. However, the W06 Hybrid is still quite some way from being 100% reliable. Nico Rosberg stopped unspectacular in the middle of the track just before 1 pm local time, bringing out the red flag.
Felipe Massa got the first taste of the 2015 car as he finished fourth for Williams, the experienced Brazilian couldn’t match his young country partner but did complete solid 71 laps as the Grove based team look to cement their place in the top 3. Lotus suffered telemetry issues during the day but they recovered to do a good 96 laps as Maldonado ended fifth. The Venezuelan brought out the third and final red flag of the day as he stopped on track with just a minute remaining for the day. What an improvement in terms of mileage for the Enstone based team from last year!
The surprise package was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr who finished sixth but covered the second highest number of laps, which was 137. This is the highest number of laps done by a Renault engine driven car this season. Daniel Ricciardo in the sister team Red Bull only managed 49 laps as engine problems restricted his runs hugely.
“Although we were limited with running today, we got some long runs together and that was encouraging,” said the Australian. “I was happy to do some 10-15 lap runs as that’s always where you get a better understanding of the car. Every lap we do we understand something more about the car or the driveablility of the Renault power unit. So it was a decent afternoon."
Behind them and last was Fernando Alonso who managed to do 32 laps before the team faced a loss of cooling water pressure which needed the removal of the Honda power unit for inspection and thus ended their day’s progress.
Another solid day in terms of lap runs by the teams. There were minor blips in all the teams but it is a lot different from last year. Despite Ferrari powered cars dominating the proceedings as of now, Mercedes will remain tough to defeat. Getting close is one thing, and moving ahead of rivals is altogether a different task. That is the case at the moment. The worry is for McLaren-Honda right now but with time, they will be able to solve the issues they are facing. At least Alonso remains upbeat about their chances. The dark horse could be Lotus this year, with Mercedes engine at their back.
Jerez test - Day 3 Results
1. Felipe Nasr, Sauber 1:21.545 (108 laps)
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1:21.750 (92)
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1:21.982 (151)
4. Felipe Massa, Williams 1:22.276 (71)
5. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus 1:22.713 (96)
6. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso 1:23.187 (136)
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 1:23.901 (48)
8. Fernando Alonso, McLaren 1:35.553 (32)
by Darshan Chokhani