sport

Massa all smiles after test

Williams driver Felipe Massa was all smiles at the end of F1's first pre-season test after finishing top of the timesheets at Jerez.

The Brazilian's second day in the cockpit saw him complete a healthy 86 laps and although his time of 1:28.229s mattered little so early in the sport's new technical era, it was a nice fillip all the same.

"I'm happy with the day and I'm happy with the first impression of the team. Definitely [there's] still a lot of work, there's long days in front until the first race," Massa said on Friday evening.

"It's too early; we cannot forget that it's still testing. And I think this test is maybe even more difficult to explain compared to last year, for example. The rules - nothing changed and now there's a big change, so anything can change in a few days.

"But I'm happy because what I've found inside the team is better than I expected. The team is very good people, very professional people."

Like everyone, Massa is adopting a cautious approach both on and off track for now. But the former Ferrari driver was able to express satisfaction with the reliability of Mercedes' new 1.6-litre V6 turbo power unit.

Williams, who have switched from Renault to Mercedes power this season, weren't the only team to make a slow start to the week, having worked to solve electrical and suspension problems.

"If you see how we started the first day and the second day, it was not so easy to be sure that we were going to do 86 laps. We were able to do more today and so many runs I had to stop because of the red flags - things that weren't a problem with the car," Massa said.

"It's positive that we didn't have any problem to stop the car on the track, any problem that it takes so long to go out again. So that shows evolution."

Mercedes and Ferrari led the way at Jerez in terms of mileage and Massa said that was understandable given they could respond to the many technical changes 'in house'.

"Other teams were doing more laps than us but they were also a little bit more prepared than us. Mercedes is one company so they have everything ready and they know it works before us. Ferrari as well," he said.

"We've just changed the engine and so many people inside [the team] so making the car work straightaway is not easy."

Although the torque provided by the new power units has attracted plenty of comment, Massa said he found the 'brake by wire' system teams are now using more difficult to get to grips with.

"The brakes work in a different way. It's electronic brakes - brake by wire - and I still need to improve the way I'm braking because it's different; it's a little bit strange sometimes," he said.

"We still need to understand how to use the engine. The car has a lot of wheelspin and less downforce than last year. The engine is strong but with less downforce it makes it more difficult to drive."

Of ending the week P1, the 32-year-old added: "Being first is always nice - it's a long time since I finished a test first. But it's still the first test, there are still many cars missing, so it's still not enough. But it's always good."