Rains that swept out of Spain -- and into Italy, but more on that later -- on Friday left sun shining on Circuito de Jerez in Jerez de la Frontera and put McLaren Mercedes's Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa atop unofficial time charts in the...
Rains that swept out of Spain -- and into Italy, but more on that later -- on Friday left sun shining on Circuito de Jerez in Jerez de la Frontera and put McLaren Mercedes's Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa atop unofficial time charts in the final Formula One test week of the season.
De la Rosa covered 90 laps and registered a fast lap of 1 minute, 18.992 seconds. As did most teams, McLaren worked on aerodynamic configurations for the remaining races and on kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS), which teams will be allowed to use next season.
De la Rosa was followed by BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld in 1:19.250, Renault's Lucas di Grassi in 1:19.280, Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel in 1:19.470, Red Bull's Sebastien Buemi in 1:20.005, Toyota's Timo Glock in 1:20.482, Honda's Alexander Wurz in 1:22.637, and Williams's Nico Rosberg in 1:22.876.
"Today I concentrated on the mechanical and aerodynamic development of the car," said Heidfeld, who completed 98 laps. "We found some promising solutions to improve the setup of the car."
As eight teams in Spain reported maximum track temperatures from 110 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, most agreed clear skies and high temperatures allowed lots of laps. Toyota's Timo Glock recorded a session-high 111. The track was slower for morning runs, when drivers faced strong winds.
Di Grassi ran 102 laps and earned his boss's favor. "It was a better day for Lucas and the team and nice to give Lucas another full day of running," chief test engineer Christian Silk said. "He's done a very good job for us this week and was competitive throughout the day with consistent lap times and gave the team good feedback. The car ran well today giving us lots of results and data, which will be useful for the forthcoming races and for next year."
The Red Bull family kept up the closeness, this time on the timing chart, as Vettel and Buemi placed fourth- and fifth-best, respectively. Vettel, who put in 94 laps, worked on aerodynamic and set-up work aimed at the final four races of the year. He also evaluated some suspension and power steering options, and did testing aimed at 2009 car systems.
"At this, the final session of the season, our main test topics were trying out some new components on the car and the evaluation of two drivers, Sebastien Buemi and Takuma Sato," Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said. "On Wednesday, Red Bull young driver Buemi was in the cockpit and, as expected, he did a good job. On Thursday, Japan's Takuma Sato was behind the wheel. Unfortunately, he was only able to run in the morning because the rain arrived at lunchtime. Despite only completing a few laps, Sato also put up a good performance. Although those two days were something of an audition for a 2009 seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull is in no hurry to make a decision at this point in the year, when we are concentrating on doing well in the final four races."
A minor problem limited Buemi to 84 laps. "Definitely the best of the three days," chief test engineer Ian Morgan sai. "Basically, Seb hardly got out of the car and every time he came into the pits, we put something new on for him to try. Hopefully, the race team can see the results in the coming flyaway races."
Wurz completed 51 laps, evaluating the KERS system at various levels. "It was good to spend three days in the car this week and we were able to achieve a great deal of beneficial work," he said. "For the first two days in the RA108, we concentrated on aerodynamic and set-up evaluations, and the car performed quite well on the new track surface in Jerez. Today we ran our KERS system, which was a very interesting and promising experience. Every time that we run with KERS, we learn more and start to fully understand its possibilities. It's such an interesting challenge and one that we look forward to developing further over the next few tests."
Team principal Ross Brawn, whose yearlong presence is starting to be felt, said, "The test was also a critical stage in our development of KERS. Although installed in a 'mule' car, the KERS system was fully functioning and very close to 2009 specification. Alex was able to give an invaluable input into the track behavior of our KERS system and highlight several areas we need to focus on. A very valuable test, and I am extremely pleased with the performance and the progress we have made with the system."
Meanwhile in Italy, Ferrari's Felipe Massa moved from Fiorano to Mugello, where Luca Badoer and Kimi Raikkonen had tested this week before him. The Brazilian encountered the weather front that cut short testing in Spain on Thursday and kept track temperatures at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. He completed 98 laps, fastest of which was covered in 1:23.618.
"This sesson has been very useful," Massa said. "Kimi and Luca were able to run in the dry while I encountered the wet. Given that there's a chance we could experience these conditions in the coming races that is no bad thing. We have done a good job and feel ready for the forthcoming Singapore Grand Prix. The end of the championship will be very close, and it will be vital not to make any mistakes anywhere."
Reports that team principals have met with F1's commercial supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, to discuss reviving a U.S. Grand Prix are bolstered by Formula Money findings that American companies supply the highest degree of support to the sport. The publication credits U.S. firms with 21.4 percent of F1 sponsors and says more F1 sponsors are headquartered in the United States than any other country. Formula Money puts the estimated investment by U.S. firms at $113.6 million in a sport expected to generate $4.7 billion this year. The United States is a top market for a large number of teams and sponsors in F1. Compiled by journalists working in F1, Formula Money is an annual data compilation. It typically sells to participants or prospective participants as well as news organizations.