F1

Alonso leads on day one at Valencia

Alonso leads on day one at Valencia

Testing resumed on January 30th at the Spanish circuit of Valencia where for the first time several of the new 2007 challengers were on track together. 14 drivers from nine teams were at work in changeable weather conditions; wet in the morning...

Testing resumed on January 30th at the Spanish circuit of Valencia where for the first time several of the new 2007 challengers were on track together. 14 drivers from nine teams were at work in changeable weather conditions; wet in the morning and drying out in the afternoon with cool temperatures overall.

Fernando Alonso.
Photo by xpb.cc.

McLaren led way with Fernando Alonso topping the times in the MP4-22, his best a 1:12.563. He was the only representative of the team on the first day and focused mainly on tyres, including extreme wets, wets and then dries in the last couple of hours. An oil leak right at the end of the day was the only problem the team reported.

Kimi Raikkonen had his first taste of the Ferrari F2007 and was second on the time sheet, fractionally under a second off Alonso. The Finn's programme was development of the new car, while team test driver Luca Badoer worked on set up and new components in the 248 F1. His day ended prematurely due to an unspecified technical problem and he was at the bottom of the times.

Renault tester Nelson A. Piquet was third fastest and Giancarlo Fisichella was eighth overall, both driving an R27 chassis apiece. Due to the poor conditions neither managed any significant track time until the afternoon, then they continued putting mileage on the new car and trying out different set up configurations.

"In the end, it wasn't such a busy day for us," said Piquet. "We only began the programme towards the end of the day when the weather improved. Everything went OK from my point of view, and it feels like the real work has begun now: these are important tests for the team, and there is still a lot to do before the opening races."

Franck Montagny made his official debut as test and third driver for Toyota and was fourth quickest. Jarno Trulli was sixth and both were behind the wheel of a TF107. Montagny had a mechanical issue and later spun but managed to return to the track after the mechanics had checked the car over. Set up was their main focus at the start of this first full test of the new car.

"We are pleased with Jarno's day as he was able to do quite a few laps with no trouble which allowed the team to begin work on understanding the best set-up of the car," said test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer. "Franck had a more difficult day as he had a long stop due to the changing of one of the test items. Both drivers were able to set competitive times and their first impressions of the new car were very positive."

Sebastian Vettel.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Tester Sebastian Vettel was the quicker of the two BMW Sauber F1.07s on track, fifth, and Nick Heidfeld was seventh. It was Vettel's initial outing in the new car and he practiced starts and did some system checks until the track dried out, then he worked on set up. Heidfeld also did set up work and functionality checks, although he was hampered by a mechanical problem.

Rubens Barrichello, in the RA107, was the lead Honda in ninth and team tester James Rossiter was a couple of places behind in 11th, driving last year's RA106. They too had limited track time but worked on wet tyres for a few short runs in the morning and then went out on dries in the afternoon, checking the balance of the cars.

Williams had test driver Kazuki Nakajima on duty in the interim chassis ahead of the launch of the new car on Friday and he was 10th. Transmission and software programmes were his work but he had a difficult day with a couple of mechanical problems that bought him to a halt on the circuit, and also an off track excursion.

Takuma Sato was 12th quickest in the interim Super Aguri and his programme was tyres and control systems analysis. Mark Webber was the sole Red Bull driver present and managed the 13th best time. Webber was another one of a few drivers who went off track in the slippery conditions and there were several red flags overall, mostly due to mechanical/technical issues.

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