STR hopeful Buemi quickest in Jerez

Toro Rosso hopeful and GP2 ace Sebastien Buemi took a stop closer to sealing his place on the Formula One grid next year after going quickest on the opening day of testing at Jerez in Spain, beating STR regular Sebastian Bourdais by just over half a second.

The timing sheet was shaken up by heavy showers in the afternoon making predictions about the pecking order – which is shaky at the best of times during testing due to the level of experimentation – almost impossible. But the margin by which Buemi outpaced his teammate will no doubt be a boost as he attempts to impress his bosses sufficiently to earn a full time drive next year.

McLaren test driver Gary Paffet spent the day working on KERS development and wound up third quickest, a mere three hundredths of a second ahead of McLaren’s established test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who focused on setup.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen worked on setup and engine development and ended the day fifth quickest, ahead of BMW Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima lapped seventh fastest ahead of Renault’s Nelson Piquet and Christian Klein.

Piquet will line up alongside double world champion Fernando Alonso again next year after his contract was extended at the end of a trying season.

“It has been a good day,” affirmed the Brazilian, “I did lots of laps and we completed what we needed to in terms of putting mileage on the car, despite the rain showers.”

“The cool conditions meant that the track conditions were quite cool throughout the day, but the grip was good, which has given us some more valuable data about the tyres.”

Piquet’s Test Engineer, Christian Silk added: “It’s been a positive first day here in Jerez. Nelson did a good job completing a lot of laps and so we’ve been able to achieve the main targets for the day, which is always encouraging. The conditions were quite cold today and the weather was quite changeable which meant we had to keep adapting out programme, but overall we can be happy with our day’s work.”

Pos Driver               Team                    Time      Laps
1.  Sebastien Buemi      Scuderia Toro Rosso     1:18.742    91
2.  Sebastien Bourdais   Scuderia Toro Rosso     1:19.288    77
3.  Gary Paffett         McLaren Mercedes        1:20.134    26
4.  Pedro de la Rosa     McLaren Mercedes        1:20.164    21
5.  Kimi Raikkonen       Ferrari                 1:20.261    48
6.  Nick Heidfeld        BMW Sauber              1:20.678    49
7.  Kazuki Nakajima      Williams                1:21.338    57
8.  Nelson Piquet        Renault                 1:21.547   124
9.  Christian Klien      BMW Sauber              1:22.098    15