Finns to the front, please. Finnish drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday continued their first-rate representation of a nation that punches above its weight in Formula One. They produced the two quickest times during the final day of a week of car testing in Valencia, Spain.
World Driving Champion Raikkonen, in a F2008 Ferrari, clocked a 1 minute, 11.189-second trip around the 4.005-kilometer (2.488-mile) Richard Tormo circuit. Kovalainen, in a McLaren Mercedes MP4-23, chased him at 1:11.206.
Any timing surprise was offered by Williams, whose driver Kazuki Nakajima (1:11.971) jumped the lock-step queue of Ferrari-McLaren at the front by edging an FW30 between Ferrari's Felipe Massa (1:11831.) and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton (1:11.994), whose late-afternoon coming to a halt on track was reported as planned.
"This week marked the initial test for the FW30 and it was a good beginning from a reliability and performance point of view," Williams technical director Sam Michael said. "The car completed a full non-stop race simulation on only its second day of testing with Nico Rosberg and covered over 1,400 kilometers (just under 870 miles) during the four days."
Michael said a second FW30 will arrive at testing next week in Barcelona, Spain. Test driver Nico Hulkenberg drove the FW29B to a 1:13.306 quick time.
Typically, Ferrari met its aims -- reliability and set-up checks -- without fuss. Raikkonen drove 88 laps and Massa 96. The Scuderia have planned their next test for Bahrain next month in advance of the season's start in Australia in mid-March.
A cloudy morning with clearing by afternoon produced track temperatures to 80-plus degrees while air temps aspired to 60. McLaren chief exec Martin Whitmarsh praised the week's weather.
"With the weather clear all three days this week we have ben able to accumulate more miles on the two MP4-23s, which is crucially important at this stage of the development with the focus very much on endurance and reliability." he said. "Lewis, Heikki and Pedro (de la Rosa) have been doing a great job and the feedback we are getting has been extremely productive."
He added the team have used a harder Bridgestone tire compound than usually provided at Ricardo Tormo and he said the team are on schedule as they look ahead to testing next week in Barcelona.
As Williams's Michael indicated, to date, not all teams have two new cars to test. The better-funded teams, Ferrari and McLaren, rolled out new models right off, but others are rolling out at a slower rate. Well-funded Toyota tested TF 108s with Jarno Trulli (1:12.109) and Timo Glock (1:13.134) aboard. Glock's car suffered electrical gremlins that disrupted his day's work on aerodynamic and mechanical set-up, but Trulli tested aerodynamic configurations as well as set-up options in a busy day.
"It was a shame we lost some time this morning with a small problem, but my crew got the car ready quickly," Glock said. "We still had quite a bit of time to run through our program in the afternoon and improve the balance of the car. Overall, we have had a positive and encouraging test here. Both Jarno and I have concentrated on set-up and we have had a lot of time on track so the team has plenty of informtion to work with."
Toyota test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer called the Valencia sessions useful and positive.
"With a new car it is important to complete as many laps as possible to get data on how it reacts to set-up changes, and in that respect we can be very pleased with our progress," Pfeiffer said.
BMW Sauber also reported work complete by the end of the test. Robert Kubica turned sixth-best time, a 1:12.095, in the F1.08-02, and Nick Heidfeld lapped in 1:12.600 in the F1.08-01. Technical director Willy Rampf praised the cars' reliability and said modifications will be in place for the next testing, in Barcelona.
Honda ended the day at the bottom of the unofficial time sheet. Jenson Button and Tokashi Koguere posted times of 1:13.689 and 1:15.703, respecitvely.
Unable to complete a desired program was Red Bull. Driver Mark Webber's test halted early when damage to the RB4 monocoque was noticed. Webber managed a quick lap of 1:13.333 in two runs.
Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Sebastian Vettel (1:12.526) and Sebastien Bourdais (1:13.060) ran up nearly 2,000 kilometers in STR2s in their week's test. Chief engineer Laurent Mekies said they progressed with reliability considerations, especially relating to the gearbox, and getting to grips with control systems and electronics mandated for this season.
Renault's day was in the hands of Nelson Angelo Piquet. The Brazilian, son of the former multiple world champion, put up a quick lap of 1:12.973 in his first drive in an R28.
"I think it was a good day and it was important for me to get back in the car," Piquet said. "I have not raced in Formula One yet, so it's always beneficial to have time in the car."
Force India completed the week working on set-up, dampers, the addition of minor components, and the standard electronic control unit. A minor mechanical problem prevented Giancarlo Fisichella (1:12.949) from completing a new tire run.