Felipe Massa set the pace on the third day of testing at Jerez as Ferrari let loose with its F138 for the first time this week.
Massa had spent the majority of the week completing aero work, but on Thursday morning he 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 85 laps over the course of the day.
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 faulty wiring loom and on Wednesday team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out after a suffering a loss of rear brake pressure. However, Rosberg put Mercedes on the road to recovery with an impressive 148 laps and a best time of 1:18.766.
Third fastest was Sebastian Vettel as he got his first taste of the new Red Bull in which he will attempt to defend his title. He had a productive day, completing 102 laps with a best time of 1:19.052 in the RB9.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest on his return to the cockpit, setting a 1:19.200 in the afternoon. He spent most of the morning getting comfortable in the new car and completing aero tests before he started to clock flying laps. He only completed 40 laps in total after being consigned to the garage for the final two hours of the day but will be in the car again on Friday for the final day of the test
Jean-Eric Vergne had a strong first day in the STR8 as he completed 85 laps and set the fifth-quickest time, though he did cause one red flag in the afternoon when his car came to a halt at the end of the pit lane.
Sixth 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 he handed 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. Di Resta had a frustrating time, however, as an exhaust failure ended his running after just seven laps.
Jenson Button completed a number of long runs late in the day for McLaren en-route to the seventh fastest time, but he never threatened to get near his quickest time from Tuesday and after completing 83 laps he brought out a red flag that ended the day's running four minutes early.
Esteban Gutierrez proved his fitness as he racked up 110 laps on his first day in the Sauber, ending the day two seconds off the pace. Max Chilton was ninth quickest in the Marussia after some late performance runs, though his day was punctuated by electrical problems.
Valtteri Bottas continued Williams's schedule in the FW34 with 86 laps but never looked to be on anything other than a high fuel load as the team continues to learn about the Pirelli tyres, while Charles Pic only completed 57 laps following a technical problem which caused him to stop during the morning session.
|1.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F138||1:17.879||85|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W04||1:18.766||148|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull RB9||1:19.052||102|
|4.||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus E21||1:19.200||40|
|5.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso STR8||1:19.247||85|
|6.||James Rossiter||Force India VJM06||1:19.303||42|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren MP4-28||1:19.603||83|
|8.||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber C32||1:19.934||110|
|9.||Max Chilton||Marussia MR02||1:21.269||78|
|10.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams FW34||1:21.575||86|
|11.||Charles Pic||Caterham CT03||1:22.352||57|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India VJM06||1:23.729||7|