The final scheduled test session of 2007 got under way at Jerez de la Frontera on December 4th with 20 drivers at work on the Spanish track. BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld set the pace, his best of the day a 1:19.042. The team also tried out young drivers Marco Asmer and Javier Villa and they were 18th and 20th respectively.
Honda's Jenson Button was second quickest, just over a tenth off Heidfeld, and new team tester Mike Conway was 10th. Button worked on evaluation of 2008 electronics and trying out the slick tyres while Conway continued his acclimatization of the car.
McLaren fielded both its test drivers, Pedro de la Rosa third and Gary Paffett seventh. Their work was split between aerodynamic development and chassis components and the pair swapped between chassis through the day. Lewis Hamilton is scheduled to be at work on Wednesday.
New world champion Kimi Raikkonen was back in the Ferrari cockpit and clocked the fourth fastest time, while team tester Marc Gen? was ninth. They focused on a technical programme of development of new components with the attention on electronics. Renault tester Nelson A. Piquet was fifth, working on running without driver aids.
"It was good to get back to driving today, particularly as I will be in the car for all three days this week," said the Brazilian youngster. "I was comfortable in the car, and it felt good to be running without driver aids. We found a good set-up for the car today, and that will help us make more progress tomorrow."
Toro Rosso had it pair of Sebastians on track, Bourdais sixth and Vettel 11th. The former worked on front end solutions including suspension and the latter had a programme of gearbox, brakes and engine control systems. A technical issue cut his day short. Sister team Red Bull had Mark Webber at work, eighth on the time sheet.
James Rossiter has been shuttling back and forth between Super Aguri and Honda recently and for the moment he's on duty for Super Aguri, 12th quickest. The standard electronic control system for 2008 was his focus and, much the same as everyone else, slick tyres for a possible return to the compound in 2009.
Force India has a busy schedule of trying out all sorts of drivers and this first day of the test was the turn of Giancarlo Fisichella, 13th, and Franck Montagny, 16th. Fisichella drove for Renault in 2007 but looks unlikely to stay, although the team has yet to make any announcement about drivers, while Montagny was previously test driver for Toyota.
Williams' Kazuki Nakajima was 15th and Euro F3 star Nico Hulkenburg had his debut with the Grove squad and was 14th. "Kazuki was working through the final part of our 2007 test programme and Nico joined us for his first run in a Formula One car," said test team manager Dickie Stanford. "Nico provided solid feedback for his debut outing and will continue in the car tomorrow alongside Nico Rosberg."
It was also fresh faces at Toyota; new race signing Timo Glock had his first run for the Japanese squad, 17th, while Kamui Kobayashi likewise took to the wheel as official third driver and managed 19th. Acclimatizing to the car was their programme. "We are very pleased to have Timo in the car and he has made a strong first impression," said chassis chief Pascal Vasselon.
"He is very focused and worked hard today to understand the car and make some improvements in set-up. As expected, he did a good job and provided solid feedback, which is very useful for us. He drove without driver aids today but that was no problem for him because of his experience in GP2 driving without traction is natural to him."