Alonso tops Valencia test times again

Testing continued at Valencia on January 31st with 16 drivers from nine teams at work in changeable weather conditions. McLaren's Fernando Alonso topped the times again, although his best of 1:12.581 was not so far ahead of rivals as yesterday, and team test driver Pedro de la Rosa was 12th. Both were behind the wheel of an MP4-22 for further development of the new car and alternated between wet and dry tyres as the conditions dictated.

Fernando Alonso.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen were second and third respectively, Fisichella a tenth and a half off Alonso. Neither put in much track time until after midday when they began long runs to asses the handling of the R27 and collect data. Fisichella suffered a mechanical failure that curtailed his day and when the rain returned the team decided to suspend Kovalainen's programme until Thursday.

"The weather dictated our running once again today," said Fisichella. "We waited for a long time, which ate into our programme, but these things happens. I had a mechanical problem but I'm not worried -- the team is working to find out what happened, and it is always better to have these problems in testing... We will carry on with the programme tomorrow, hopefully with some better weather!"

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth on the time sheet in the Ferrari F2007 while teammate Felipe Massa was eighth overall in the 248 F1. Raikkonen continued with development of the new car and Massa's programme was new components but both were hampered by the weather. The pair managed 99 laps between them and are scheduled to continue on Thursday.

BMW Sauber fielded both its race drivers, Nick Heidfeld fifth and Robert Kubica seventh. Set up and aero work was the plan but due to the weather the duo switched to tyres and electronics evaluation. Kubica's car sprouted flames after a hydraulic leak but the team reported it caused only a little damage. BMW has extended its week until Friday in the hope of better weather.

Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Teammates Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were on track in the Toyota TF107 and were sixth and 11th fastest respectively. As with others, they delayed their work until the track conditions improved then worked on set up of the new car. When the rain returned later in the day the team decided to forgo any further running.

"Today went pretty well and we managed to get a lot of work done but we had to stop a little bit early because of the rain," said Trulli. "There was no point going out on a wet track as that would have been a waste of tyres. I had a good feeling again with the car and I am optimistic about it, but it is still too early to really understand how much potential it has. It has been a good day and I am happy we have made some more progress."

Honda had Rubens Barrichello, ninth, and test driver James Rossiter, 10th, on duty in the new RA107 and last year's RA106 respectively. Barrichello evaluated wet tyres for a limited time in the morning and dries in the afternoon. Rossiter only put in an installation lap in the morning then worked on tyres in the afternoon, along with an additional programme of electronic controls.

Tester Kazuki Nakajima continued in the Williams interim chassis and was 13th on the time sheet. He had a less problematic day than Tuesday and racked up 116 laps. Takuma Sato was 14th for Super Aguri and new team tester Giedo van der Garde was also present, aiming to put in enough mileage for his superlicense.

Unfortunately the Dutchman only managed four laps before a mechanical problem stopped him and he was at the bottom of the times. The team hopes the weather will improve enough on Thursday for van der Garde to complete the mileage needed. Sato worked on tyres and control systems in the interim car. Red Bull's David Coulthard split the two Super Aguris in 15th.