De la Rosa fastest as Jerez test continues

Testing continued at Jerez on December 14th and on the second busy day it was McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa who topped the times. The Spaniard set a best of 1:19.107 and the team also had Lewis Hamilton on track, fourth fastest. Once again tyres were their main focus and the pair also evaluated different suspension packages. Hamilton had a pneumatic problem with his engine but it was only a minor delay.

Pedro de la Rosa.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Jarno Trulli was the quicker of the three Toyota drivers on track in second, four tenths off de la Rosa. It was the last day in F1 of tester Olivier Panis and unfortunately it was a curtailed one. The Frenchman was suffering from a cold and managed 27 laps before Kohei Hirate was drafted in to take over. It was Toyota's final day on track, as the team started on Tuesday, and tyres and set up were the programme -- Panis was 12th and Hirate 16th.

"It has been a very productive test and we have been able to do a lot of laps without any real trouble," said Trulli. "We now understand a lot more about our car and these tyres, the good points and the not so good points. Over the winter we will work hard to find a good package and learn how to get the best out of these tyres."

Panis commented: "It was my last day in Formula 1 and I am sure I will miss it but eventually you have to make this decision. I have enjoyed my time in Formula 1, driving these cars, and I have enjoyed my time with Toyota. The team has always been good to me and it has been a great pleasure to work with them. But now is the right time for a change."

James Rossiter was third quickest for Honda and fellow team test driver Christian Klien was fifth. In the morning Rossiter worked on tyres and aerodynamics while Klien focused on set up and in the afternoon both carried out long tyre runs and evaluated chassis set up. Marco Andretti will be behind the wheel on Friday.

The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and tester Luca Badoer were sixth and seventh respectively. They continued with their programme of the new gearbox and mechanical components development, tyre adaptation and engine reliability. Marc Gene is scheduled to join Badoer on Friday.

Renault fielded both its race drivers, Heikki Kovalainen eighth and Giancarlo Fisichella 10th. Kovalainen had a trouble free day working on tyres and set up, while Fisichella experienced a gearbox gremlin in the morning that delayed his tyre work. The team stressed that the problem was easily identified and did not cause any concerns about the new gearbox.

"Heikki was able to complete his programme without any problem but Giancarlo had some delays owing to the small incident that happened on his car," said chief test engineer Christian Silk. "Finally everything went well, we recorded some good data especially regarding the tyres. We are on schedule, we know where we are."

In between the two Renaults was the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, ninth, and teammate Robert Kubica was 11th on the time sheet. The team reported another day of good mileage, as the pair worked on long runs. Sebastian Vettel will join Kubica tomorrow in order to validate the test results on the final day.

Williams test driver Kazuki Nakajima was 13th overall and he was followed by the Super Aguri of Takuma Sato in 14th. Aside from the ongoing tyre evaluation, Sato also carried out set up changes, control systems modifications and some engine work in the interim chassis.

Tester Michael Ammermuller was the leader of the Red Bull contingent in 15th. Toro Rosso's Scott Speed had a heavy shunt, reportedly caused by a brake failure, but was unharmed and ended the day 17th. Sebastian Bourdais had his second outing with the Italian team and was 18th, less than a tenth off Speed's best time.