Lewis Hamilton got his mind back on racing with fast time Thursday at Formula One tire testing on the Silverstone Circuit, site of the British Grand Prix in another week. Upgrades to the McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 might take pressure off the ...
Lewis Hamilton got his mind back on racing with fast time Thursday at Formula One tire testing on the Silverstone Circuit, site of the British Grand Prix in another week. Upgrades to the McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 might take pressure off the 23-year-old Englishman. He hasn't scored in the past two grands prix and has slipped from first to fourth in the drivers' standings. Hamilton lashed out at reporters after the French Grand Prix as his frustration began to show. Hamilton drove a quick lap of 1 minute, 19.170 seconds -- best of the three-day test -- to lead unofficial timings.
Fans again crowded the track, massing in front of McLaren garages, where they saw a new, multilayer front wing for the MP4-23.
Timo Glock's Toyota was the only other car under 1:20. Glock, who posted a 1:19.815, proceeded after quick repairs to the TF108 needed after he and David Coulthard collided.
"It was a misunderstanding," Glock said. "When I turned in at the end of the Hangar Straight, David was there. I just didn't see him, so I apologize for that. The mechanics did a really good job to get the car back into shape and they worked hard all day because we had a lot to do."
Driver changes throughout the 10 teams brought new faces to the paddock. They encountered overcast and blustery conditions.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen (1:20.321), second-fastest to Hamilton in the morning session, moved to third overall after Glock found quicks in the afternoon. Glock moved from eighth in the morning to second best by the end of the day.
Amid his team's postrace teeth-gnashing over lost chances at the French Grand Prix, Renault's Fernando Alonso (1:20.862) took over from teammate Nelsinho Piquet to wrap up the French squad's preparations for the British Grand Prix. The Spaniard posted the fourth-quickest time. He also caused the first red flag of the day, around midmorning, when his engine seemed to die.
Nick Heidfeld (1:21.011), third-fastest in morning times, completed the top five in his BMW Sauber F1.08. The German squad, whose technical director Willy Rampf has determined to cut back his work load at the end of the racing season, finished tire testing, race setup and aero development 25 minutes before the official end-of-day. Tire and setup work went more smoothly than aero testing, which was badly affected by gusting winds.
Rampf will become technical coordinator in November, handing off business operations and line management duties to Walter Riedl. Riedl is managing director in charge of project management. He heads up the Hinwil shop of the Munich-Hinwil operation. Riedl will take over development of the F1.09. Rampf asked to reconfigure his duties. He has been technical director for the team since 2000, first with Sauber then with BMW Sauber after the carmaker's purchase of the private Swiss outfit.
"It has been an extremely enjoyable but also very intense phase of my life," Rampf said. "The idea of cutting back professionally has been growing in my mind for some time already. I discussed the subject with [team principal] Mario Theissen and we have found a solution together. I'm looking forward to focusing on my original technical responsibilities again and am in no doubt that we can continue to build on our success."
BMW Sauber met its 2008 target of first victory when Robert Kubica won the Canadian Grand Prix. The team has announced major updates for the F1.08 for the Italian Grand Prix in September.
Kazuki Nakajima (1:21.059) drove the Williams FW30 to sixth-best time. As important as setting up for the British GP was understanding what hampered the team in France.
"We managed to work through a lot of items and have come away with a good understanding of some crucial elements, which will help us going into the short and medium terms," said Nico Rosberg, who drove the first two days of the test. "Overall, it was a very useful test. Looking foreward to the race at Silverstone, it'll be very tight as usual because the top six places are always taken, but we will go out there and do our best."
Adrian Sutil (1:21.331) posted seventh-best time for Force India, which is the center of reports that the team will dump its Ferrari engines in favor of Hondas next season. That move could open the door for a return to F1 by Takuma Sato. Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell reported Honda is pushing a deal offering engines and KERS system if Sato gets a ride. Force India has confirmed nothing.
Rubens Barrichello (1:21.344) continued aerodynamic work for Honda. The team has concentrated on aero work this week. Barrichello completed 94 laps.
Sebastien Bourdais (1:21.432) was at the helm of the Toro Rosso STR3. The Frenchman completed 36 laps on a day that included several red flags; the highest total was 52 laps from Heidfeld.
Red Bull's Coulthard (1:22.232) had a difficult day after his crash with Glock. The Scot caused the last red flag of the day with an apparent engine problem. He finished at the bottom of time charts having driven 31 laps.