It was back to the test track for 10 of the 11 teams on February 12th and Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, with its new chicane before the final corner, was the venue of choice. Of the 18 drivers at work, McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa topped...
It was back to the test track for 10 of the 11 teams on February 12th and Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, with its new chicane before the final corner, was the venue of choice. Of the 18 drivers at work, McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa topped the times with a best of 1:22.634 and Fernando Alonso was third fastest. Aerodynamics and set up were their focus in mixed weather conditions, while the team also practiced pit stops.
Splitting the two McLarens was the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica, just a couple of hundredths behind de la Rosa, and team test driver Timo Glock was 10th on the time sheet. BMW missed a couple of hours at lunchtime due to rain but Kubica otherwise worked on front wing aero and brakes, while Glock had his first full day in the new car and did aero work, diagnostics and systems tests.
Alex Wurz was the lead Williams in fourth and teammate Nico Rosberg clocked the ninth best time. Test team manager Mike Condliffe reported no difficulties and said it was a productive day, with the drivers working on set up and running in both the wet and the dry while familiarizing themselves with the new chicane.
Felipe Massa outdid Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen by just over a tenth, fifth and sixth respectively, but it was a difficult day for the Scuderia. Massa's car came to a smoky halt on only his out lap due to an electrical gremlin, while Raikkonen was also hampered by electrical problems and both drivers spent time in the garage. Combined with the rain, the duo's planned programme of set up and aero work was disrupted.
Toyota's Jarno Trulli was seventh quickest and team tester Franck Montagny was 12th. Set up and tyres were their main focus and despite the conditions they managed to rack up nearly 140 laps between them. "We've got through a lot of laps today, which is good because one of our main targets for this period is to achieve good reliability for the first race," said chief race and test engineer Dieter Gass.
"We have also done some set-up work and found out more about the new car because Barcelona is a representative track to do that. The tyres seem to behave very consistently and even though there is a tendency for rear drop-off you can see the lap times keep improving through the runs."
Renault had both its racers on duty, Heikki Kovalainen eighth and Giancarlo Fisichella 11th. They simulated pit stops and refuelling so the race team mechanics could get some practice and also carried out qualifying procedures. Renault reported no particular problems and made a point of mentioning that it was 'not perturbed by the few drops of rain'.
"We followed our schedule and made good progress today," said Kovalainen. "The car handled well straight away, and we can use that as a base line for tomorrow's work. I was happy to get back behind the wheel. I love driving and I'm becoming more and more motivated as the start of the season approaches. We all want to get the maximum out of this test."
Honda tester Christian Klien was 13th fastest and Rubens Barrichello was 17th. Klien was marginally up on the Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Mark Webber in 14th and 15th but, as far as the time sheet was concerned, it wasn't a particularly notable performance from either Honda or Red Bull.
In what will be the team's last pre-season test session, Anthony Davidson was Super Aguri's sole representative and posted the 16th quickest time. In the interim chassis he carried out set up work and tyre optimization but Super Aguri was another team not too impressed with the rain. Davidson is scheduled to continue on Tuesday and a race distance run will be one of his targets.
Rounding off the time sheet in 18th was Spyker's Adrian Sutil, who gave the F8-V11 its first scheduled day of testing after the shakedown at Silverstone last week. Sutil mostly focused on data collection and tyres and teammate Christijan Albers is scheduled to take over on Tuesday. Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said he was pleased with the initial performance.
"We had no real problems, but it's a big learning process with the tyres," he commented. "The consistency was good but we need to look at obtaining more pace over the first lap with new tyres. Obviously the other teams have had longer to get to grips with them, but overall it was a very promising first day. The long runs were nice and consistent, but we have to work on our ultimate pace over the next two days."
Meanwhile, it seems that the teams will get the chance to test at Spa-Francorchamps in July. A three-day programme is scheduled for the week after the British GP to give the teams a chance to see the changes to the Belgian track, which was absent from the calendar last year. This season it returns on September 16th.