It was the busiest day yet of winter testing on December 8th, when 17 drivers from nine teams took to the Spanish circuit of Jerez de la Frontera. Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer set the best time of the day with the V10 engine, 1:18.233, despite suffering a heavy crash after only 15 laps.
The Italian's shunt was nearly a carbon copy of the crash he had on Wednesday, when the F2005 went off track and impacted with the tyre wall. Today's accident was somewhat bigger and Badoer was taken to the medical centre before being given the all clear.
The team's second test driver Marc Gen? was again working with the V8 and was 15th on the time sheet. He had completed 14 laps but in light Badoer's accident, which was again caused by a breakage at the front of the car, Ferrari decided to halt the test until the problem is identified.
Jenson Button took over from Anthony Davidson at Honda and was second fastest, eight and a half tenths off Badoer's time. He and development driver James Rossiter, who was 10th overall, were running the V8 engines in the 2006 Concept cars and worked on set up and tyres.
The Renault duo of testers Heikki Kovalainen and Franck Montagny were third and fourth quickest respectively. Both used the V10 engine, Kovalainen working on tyres and Montagny on brakes. It was the last day of testing for the French squad, which returns to work at Jerez next week.
"Our technical solution for these test sessions, using a known R25 package to establish a good baseline for tyre and vehicle development, is so far proving extremely useful as we are completing very high mileages every day, and making solid progress for 2006," said chief test engineer Christian Silk.
Toyota has been unfortunate with its drivers this week. Ryan Briscoe was again deputising for the unwell Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli was drafted in a day early after Ralf Schumacher curtailed his test due to back problems. Briscoe, fifth fastest, worked on tyres and set up while Trulli, sixth, arrived at lunchtime and spent the afternoon on tyre comparisons.
Mark Webber joined Williams teammate Nico Rosberg and the pair were seventh and eighth respectively. Gary Paffett continued for McLaren, ninth, and team tester Alex Wurz was 12th. Both had incidents; Paffett an engine failure that spun the car into the wall and Wurz damaged his chassis when he crashed in the morning.
Both drivers were unharmed -- Wurz was able to continue later in the afternoon although Paffett's engine failure occurred too late to send him back out on track. McLaren is investigating the cause of Wurz' accident and the Austrian will be back at work tomorrow with fellow team tester Pedro de la Rosa.
David Coulthard and teammate Christian Klien were on duty for Red Bull and posted 11th and 13th respectively, using the V10 engines. MF1 Racing tried out Jeffrey van Hooydonk and the Belgian was 15th fastest, also with a V10. Tiago Monteiro was behind the wheel of the interim EJ15B fitted with the V8 engine and had a few problems that left him at the bottom of the times in 17th.
"We had one or two issues that delayed us for a while and there were a lot of red flags with so many cars on the track today," said chief test and race engineer Dominic Harlow. "However that is what testing is about though and we have collected more data to work on tonight."
Nicky Pastorelli, who was previously confirmed as MF1's third driver, was due to test this week but is now sitting it out due to sponsor problems. It's uncertain if he will be able to keep his seat. "At this point I won't burden the team unnecessarily with this test if it is not clear if there is a future for me with MidlandF1," he told his website.
Jacques Villeneuve was the sole BMW Sauber on track and split the two MF1 cars in 16th. He had a minor engine glitch in the morning but continued work in the afternoon with engine and systems checks. It was the Canadian's first experience of the BMW V8 engine.
"Of course, it's hard to compare the V8 with the V10, but I was expecting a bigger loss of power and more vibrations," he said. "It was not too bad and actually quite nice to drive. In fact you do feel a little loss of power, but it doesn't make driving less fun. The speed in the corners seems to be the same while you are going slower on the straights."