Buemi stays on top in Jerez

2591392226 196fc041ddToro Rosso ace retains his edge in Spain as McLaren and Ferrari go head-to-head in the Algarve.

Sebastien Buemi was once again at the top of the time sheets in winter testing after lapping quickest on the opening day of this week’s running at Jerez.

The Swiss driver, who is hoping to earn a race seat with Toro Rosso in 2009 having impressed the team in Jerez last week, posted a 1:17:704 around the Spanish track, over a second clear of his closest challenger Nick Heidfeld.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the youngster however; he crashed his Toro Rosso after losing control at the Peluqui corner.

Heidfeld spent the day focussing on tyre management and set-up, winding up just ahead of New Zealander Brendon Hartley, who made his first official test appearance for Red Bull Racing.

Heidfeld’s day was marred by a mechanical problem in the afternoon when his BMW stopped out on the track, forcing the team to make a precautionary engine change.

Christian Klein in the second BMW Sauber was fourth fastest ahead of Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Massa calls it a day in Portugal

Meanwhile in Portugal, Ferrari and McLaren were christening the new Autodromo Internacional do Algarve situated near Portimão in the country’s holiday region.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and McLaren test driver Gary Paffett hit the 4.7km for the first time, battling against windy conditions and the track’s undulating and hilly characteristics.

Massa posted a personal best time of 1.32.926 after working with the 2009-spec slick tyres and focussing on engine development, but the Brazilian was forced to stop after 36 laps due to feeling unwell.

Paffett was behind the wheel of McLaren’s the KERS-fitted MP4-23K complete with a wider 2009-style front wing.

Ferrari will continue to develop their 2009 challenger at the Algarve track tomorrow with test drivers Luca Badoer and Mark Gene taking over from Massa.

Today’s times from Jerez

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1.17.704 71
2. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1.19.223 75
3. Hartley Red Bull-Renault (B) 1.19.586 95
4. Klien BMW-Sauber (B) 1.19.655 95
5. Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1.20.704 100