Ferrari, McLaren top Paul Ricard day two test

Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes again topped unofficial time charts on the second day of Formula One testing at Paul Ricard test circuit in the south of France. Rain held off through the morning, though it punctuated lunch, and teams completed race...

Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes again topped unofficial time charts on the second day of Formula One testing at Paul Ricard test circuit in the south of France. Rain held off through the morning, though it punctuated lunch, and teams completed race preparations on a`sunny afternoon. The course layout was set to mimic twisty, high-downforce conditions at the series' next race, in Monaco at the end of the month.

The design features of the circuit that lets it reconfigure will be changed Friday to a longer, faster layout to simulate low-downforce conditions in Montreal. The Canadian Grand Prix follows a fortnight after the Monaco race.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 05.381 seconds in 102 laps. He was followed by Heikki Kovalainen, who turned a 1:05.471 in 89 laps. The only other driver in the 1:05s was BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, tipped by voters at the series' official website to become the next first-time winner in Monaco. The Pole rolled to a 1:05.905 in 135 laps, which still seems a yawning gap behind Ferrari and McLaren. Kubica evaluated aero and suspension setups and tested tires as the team completed the day's program. The team focused on grip.

David Coulthard just missed the 1:05s in his Red Bull RB4. He timed in at 1:06.001 in 82 laps. He tested aero parts, mechanical setup and imbued the team with confidence heading into the principality. Coulthard finished third in Monaco for Red Bull in 2006.

Coulthard, inconvenienced somewhat by technical gremlins that coincided with the rain, was clocked ahead of countryman Jenson Button in the Honda RA108. Button put in 155 laps with a best of 1:06.091.

Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais put in a race simulation with the as-yet unraced STR3, thereby testing both Bridgestone tire compounds that will be on hand in Monte Carlo. He completed 110laps with a best of 1:06.125. Toyota veteran followed the F1 rookie, covering 120 laps with a fast lap of 1:06.205.

Nelsinho Piquet, needing to improve his performance to hold his Renault job, completed 193 laps, by far the most of any driver. His fast lap was 1:06.355.

Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima, whose boss Sir Frank Williams has pronounced Toyota engines a good fit for the team, lagged to the 1:07s. Nakajima ran a 1:07.080 in 129 laps.

Only Force India drivers Adrian Sutil (1:07.104) and Giancarlo Fisichella (1:07.123) were slower. At 56 and 64, respectively, the German and the Italian completed the fewest laps each. Fisichella tested aero components to be added for Monaco.

"Both race drivers used the day for Monaco preparation working on general setup, tire evaluation and getting another read on some of the development items that were started on the first day," chief race and test engineer Dominic Harlow said.

Sutil said he was satisfied with the aero package for Monaco but said the soft tires on offer were difficult to bring to temperature.

"There is some bad graining and it's not easy to drive but we have managed to work with them better than we did in Turkey," Sutil said.

His veteran teammate also cited graining. "We had some problems with understeer and tire graining at some points, but this also happens during the race, too, so we could prepare for it," Fisichella said. "We didn't have any major problems and could put a lot of mileage on the parts for next week, so it looks good."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Sébastien Bourdais , Heikki Kovalainen , Robert Kubica , Frank Williams , Kazuki Nakajima , Adrian Sutil
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams