F1

Heidfeld tops wet last day at Jerez

Heidfeld tops wet last day at Jerez

Thursday 8th February was the last day of testing at the Spanish track of Jerez and in wet conditions the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld topped the times. The German set a best of 1:29.497 and team test driver Timo Glock was third fastest. They...

Thursday 8th February was the last day of testing at the Spanish track of Jerez and in wet conditions the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld topped the times. The German set a best of 1:29.497 and team test driver Timo Glock was third fastest. They worked on tyres and diagnostic checks but BMW opted to end its programme at midday due to the weather.

Nick Heidfeld.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Alex Wurz was second fastest for Williams, just over half a second off Heidfeld, and teammate Nico Rosberg was 10th on the time sheet. Kimi Raikkonen was the quicker Ferrari in fourth and Felipe Massa was sixth. Both Scuderia drivers worked on set up in the bad conditions.

Rubens Barrichello was fifth quickest for Honda and the team once again had Marco Andretti behind the wheel, rounding off the times in 14th. Barrichello continued with development of the new RA107, working on balance and set up. Andretti had his first taste of the RA106 in the wet and completed 63 laps.

"I have really enjoyed my two days here, and by the end of the second day with the wet conditions, I feel that I've really adapted to the way that the car has to be driven," said the American. "So the weather was actually quite useful for me and I've now experienced a little bit of everything in only three days."

Toyota fielded Jarno Trulli and tester Franck Montagny, seventh and eighth respectively. Like others, they initially went out on extreme wet tyres and set up, systems checks and transmission work were their programme. "We put a lot of mileage on the transmission update which is good," said Trulli.

"The weather was pretty poor today so we were not really concentrating on performance or setting fast lap times. That was especially true for myself because with the update we just wanted to do as many laps as possible to learn about how it performs. We could not optimise our lap times because of the wet track but we at least got a lot of information which was the only real target for today."

David Coulthard was ninth fastest for Red Bull and teammate Mark Webber was 11th. Their day was varied, with traction control, aerodynamics, mechanical set up and tyres all on the agenda. The week was not without its problems, as drive shaft and gearbox gremlins interrupted the programme over the course of the team's three days.

"It was still a productive test, during which we got through all our planned programme and made progress over the three days," said chief test engineer Ian Morgan. "The working relationship with Renault continues to grow and we got on top of our problems, covering a respectable mileage. It's a fast pace at this time of year and now we have just two days to turn the cars around and start testing back in Barcelona."

The McLarens of test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso were near the bottom of the times, 12th and 13th respectively, but the team had opted to limit its running. Alonso only completed nine laps, although de la Rosa managed 73 working on the set up of the car in wet conditions.

"Unfortunately the last day was hit by rain, which meant that we had to adapt our programme for the conditions," said CEO Martin Whitmarsh. "Nevertheless we have a much better understanding of where we are, and more importantly on what work needs to be done between now and Australia to ensure that we arrive in Melbourne in the best possible position."

Renault was also present but decided to forgo any significant running, again due to the weather. Testers Nelson A. Piquet and Ricardo Zonta only did a couple of laps each and did not set competitive times. "It was a shame not to run today, but we felt this was the best solution for the team today," said chief test engineer Christian Silk.

"We therefore devoted much of the day to giving the mechanics a chance to train in certain procedures for the opening race, which was a useful exercise. But we already know that we will have a very busy week in Barcelona." Like most teams, Renault will resume its test programme on Monday 12th February in Spain.

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