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Barcelona test ends with Massa fastest

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Barcelona test ends with Massa fastest

The first winter test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya came to a close on November 15th and Ferrari's Felipe Massa was at the top of the time sheet on the final day. Of the 20 drivers present Massa clocked a best of 1:21.044, while team test ...

The first winter test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya came to a close on November 15th and Ferrari's Felipe Massa was at the top of the time sheet on the final day. Of the 20 drivers present Massa clocked a best of 1:21.044, while team test driver Luca Badoer was seventh. They completed a programme of new components and electronics.

Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Renault's Heikki Kovalainen was originally thought to have been quickest but apparently his best time was deleted because he cut the chicane on that lap. He finished second and worked on the 2008 standard ECU. A mechanical issue was his only minor problem of the day.

"We've worked on the new ECU and we've kept progressing over the three days," said the Finn. "We've been competitive whatever the track conditions, and we've shown how determined Renault is to fight its way back to the front in 2008. I think it's a very important first step in our development programme for next season."

Franck Montagny concluded his time as Toyota's third driver with third fastest and Jarno Trulli was 14th. Montagny evaluated the ECU and other development parts while Trulli only did installation laps in the morning then did set up work in the afternoon with 2007 spec electronics and no traction control.

"It was my last day driving for the team and it has been a good day, which I am happy about," said Montagny. "Yesterday was not so great, we made a mistake on tyre pressures and we had a few problems, but today everything went pretty well -- we set decent lap times and everything was very consistent. We worked hard and I think we have made a good step forwards."

Sebastian Vettel was a notable fourth for Toro Rosso and teammate Sebastien Bourdais was not too far behind in ninth. Vettel worked on the ECU and Bourdais focused on suspension settings. David Coulthard put his Red Bull fifth and Robert Doornbos returned to the team for test duties, rounding off the list in 20th. Aero and mechanical set up and the ECU were their programme.

Pedro de la Rosa was the quicker of the McLaren test driver duo in seventh and Gary Paffett was 10th. They limited their mileage in order to have plenty of track time at Jerez in December and finished the week of running without driver aids. Nico Rosberg was eighth overall for Williams and teammate Kazuki Nakajima was 13th.

"Our last day in Barcelona delivered another productive session for Nico and Kazuki, with Kazuki covering considerable mileage despite numerous red flags," said Williams test team manager Dickie Stanford. "The pair finalised systems checks to complete our scheduled development work for this week. Jerez will be our next destination in the first week of December for the final test of the year."

The BMW Sauber duo of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively. The ECU and mechanical parts for 2008 were their focus and despite some "teething troubles" with the new components the team was overall fairly satisfied with its week and said that it had learned a lot.

Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi were on duty again with Force India and Klien was the quicker of the pair in 15th. Liuzzi was a couple of tenths astray in 17th and both were fairly happy with their day. Technical chief Mike Gascoyne said they had provided some interesting feedback on electronics and the general set up of the car.

"We kept improving over the day and I think there is still some more lap time to find," said Klien. "The car felt good in the long runs, the rear tyres were consistent and also the braking stability on the new electronics was quite good. There is still quite a lot to improve on this car and I am very optimistic. The team worked hard and I think, all in all, it was a good two days for me here."

Jenson Button was in the Honda cockpit and posted the 16th fastest time and GP2 tryout Mike Conway was 18th. Evaluating new electronics was the team's focus for the week. "After a couple of hard weeks of physical training, it was a pleasure to be back driving again this week and starting our on-track preparations for the new season," said Button.

"This was the first time that I've driven the car with the new electronics system and it is a great feeling that you are properly in control of the car without having driver aids such as traction control. This suits my driving style so I am pretty happy with the changes to the regulations."

After standing in at Honda earlier in the week, James Rossiter was back behind the wheel of the Super Aguri on the last day and was 19th overall. He worked on gathering control systems data for engineering analysis, as well as brakes and aerodynamics. "We completed the planned programme during the week's testing and are happy with the results," he commented.

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