Vettel leads first test of 2011 in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel led the first day of testing in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel led the first day of testing in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel led the first test session of the 2011 season in his new RB7 car.

He was just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, driving the Force India, with Gary Paffett in the McLaren half a second behind.

A 1.13.769 was the best out of 93 laps for Vettel, with Hulkenberg 0.17 seconds off. Paul di Resta only did 28 laps, but was 4th with a 1.17.461.

Fernando Alonso stopped out on track in the last few minutes of the session, but was still 5th fastest, having set 98 laps today. Kamui Kobayashi was 1.8 seconds off Vettel in 6th, Jerome D’Ambrosio was 7th for Virgin.

Vitaly Petrov was 8th, while Michael Schumacher had a hydraulic problem, and could only manage 16 laps. Jaime Alguersuari was 10th, Rubens Barrichello 11th, and Narain Karthikeyan 12th for HRT.

Nico Rosberg shared the Mercedes Wo2 with Schumacher, but was 6 seconds off the pace with only 9 laps on the board. He also suffered hydraulic problems, which stopped him from being able to change gear.

Despite their problems, Schumacher was still upbeat for the season:

"Interesting but short. Obviously we had expected to do a bit more laps 
today but nevertheless it’s always exciting after a long winter break to get 
back into the car and drive.

It’s a beautiful car, from the look. And inside we had little running, 
obviously, but the feeling is positive. Tomorrow we’ll have a proper working 
day and hopefully proper running.

I’m very optimistic about this, absolutely. Nothing has changed from what we 
have learned through the winter from the couple of laps we have been doing 
today. Not being able to analyse what the others are doing, knowing fuel 
levels. I’m not worried in any way that we cannot fulfil our targets and 
that’s a minimum of podiums and hopefully victories."

Note: Force India, McLaren, HRT and Virgin all completed this test in their 2010 cars.

Times from today’s testing:

Pos Driver            Car                 Time       Gap    Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull              1.13.769            93
 2.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India           1.13.938s   0.169s  71
 3.  Gary Paffett        McLaren-Mercedes      1.14.292s   0.523s  91
 4.  Paul di Resta       Force India           1.14.461s   0.692s  28
 5.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1.14.553s   0.784s  97
 6.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber                1.15.621s   1.852s  68
 7.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin                1.16.003s   2.234s  71
 8.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               1.16.351s   2.582s  28
 9.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1.16.450s   2.681s  15
10.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso            1.17.214s   3.445s  19
11.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams              1.17.335s   3.566s  77
12.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT                   1.18.020s   4.251s  45
13.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1.19.930s   6.161s  9
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