Rosberg tops times on opening day of test

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The second pre-season F1 test of 2013 is underway at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, write Colin and James Beckett.

The test is the penultimate opportunity for teams to test their cars ahead of next month’s opening Australian Grand Prix, and on the first day of action at the track that hosts the Spanish Grand Prix, it was a Brackley-based Mercedes that topped the timesheets.

Nico Rosberg was the fastest driver present as he led the development of the new Mercedes.

He said: “We had a mixed day today with some laps lost during the morning. However we were able to work through a good programme during the afternoon and, of course, it’s always nice to be quickest at the end of the day.

“In general, I feel happy and comfortable in the car and it feels better than the last time we were here at this track. There is still some work to be done on tyre degradation and our programme was helpful in understanding that.”

Daniel Ricciardo was in action on the opening day in the part-Bicester based Toro Rosso. The Australian was sixth fastest, with his French team-mate, Jean-Eric Vergne, also due to drive the Ferrari-powered car.

Paul di Resta was eighth fastest in the VJM06 Sahara Force India. The young Scot said: “We are continuing to work through various test phases and assemble data from the car.”

The team have still to announce who will partner di Resta throughout the 2013 season, with the team’s former racer, Adrian Sutil, due to take a turn behind the wheel of the VJM06 at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The German is now thought to be the team’s favoured option for a race seat ahead of highly-rated Frenchman, Jules Bianchi, and British racer, James Rossiter.