With a pack of champions past -- including his father -- at his heels, Nico Rosberg on Tuesday blazed the quickest lap at the opening day of another round of Formula One winter testing at Barcelona. Nico Rosberg, Williams F1 Team. Photo...
With a pack of champions past -- including his father -- at his heels, Nico Rosberg on Tuesday blazed the quickest lap at the opening day of another round of Formula One winter testing at Barcelona.
Rosberg, a German, drove a Williams Toyota to a fast lap of 1 minute, 30.675 seconds in completing 73 laps of the 4.655-kilometer (2.88-mile) Circuit de Catalunya.
The Williams was outfitted in the fifth of six special liveries the team has on offer this year. The special paint jobs commemorate four decades of high points, including seven world driving titles. The team will observe its 500th F1 start at the Italian Grand Prix.
Williams world champions Australian Alan Jones, Finn Keke Rosberg, Brazilian Nelson Piquet, Englishman Nigel Mansell, Frenchman Alain Prost, Englishman Damon Hill and Canadian Jacques Villeneuve sent personal greetings that were in turn emblazoned on the FW30s. The names of all 31 Williams drivers through the years appeared on the monocoque.
The most recently added name on the list, Kazuki Nakajima, drove to a second-fastest time of 1:32.370 in completing 96 laps.
"The weather really hampered play today in Barcelona," team test manager Dickie Stanford said. "The intermittent rain, in particular, made the track very greasy for the duration of the session. Rosberg and Nakajima were in the cockpit for us and concentrated on set-up work and endurance runs, so our running wasn't as adversely affected by the conditions as it perhaps was for others."
The special Williams livery offered a bright spot on a dull day as teams cut back mileage and otherwise suffered the conditions. For Red Bull's David Coulthard, an uncooperative track meant smacking the wall between Turns 7 and 8, a moment that offered minor damage to the RB4. The Scot turned a best lap time of 1:32.924 in 23 laps. Teammate Mark Webber ran 27 laps in the other RB4; his quick lap was covered in 1:32.599.
Renault also cut back on planned running in testng the R28s as showers paraded through the day. Fernando Alonso and Nelson Angelo Piquet ran in the wet to gather data and assess balance, but intended set-up work was scuppered. Alonso's best lap was a 1:32.820 in 16 laps; Piquet recorded a 1:40.073 in eight laps.
"It was cold and wet today so there was no point in doing a lot of running,:" Alonso said. "It was an opportunity to try the car in the wet, but it was so slippery that we did not do many laps. We waited in the afternoon for conditions to improve, but they did not so we ended the day slightly early."
Said Christian Silk, Renault chief test engineer, "It was a day disrupted by the weather and so we did not learn much at all, really."
Toyota, whose most recent testing took place in the warmth of Bahrain, were hampered in a plan to compare the TF108s' aerodynamic packages. Jarno Trulli completed 57 laps and Kamui Kobayashi did one installation lap. Trulli lapped in a best time of 1:33.283.
"Today was wet so it wasn't an ideal day for testing," Trulli said. "We were concentrating on testing some new parts for our new aerodynamics package. We made reasonable progress and collected some useful data but it's still too early to figure anythng out yet. The track was changing throughout the day so direct comparisons were hard. In conditions like we had today we didn't do much mileage because we wanted to save some more miles and tires for the next few days."
Rules by sanctioning body the FIA stipulate that teams cannot exceed 30,000 kilometers (18,641 miles) in testing.
"The main aim of these two weeks of testing at Barcelona is to evaluate the aerodynamics package that we are scheduled to use in the first race. We have worked hard to get that ready early enough to try some set-up work and understand the new parts before we get to Melbourne. So it's frustrating that we have had to curtail our running today. The reliability of the TF108s so far means that we have already used up a lot of testing mileage so we will limit our running in the wet. Still, we would like to have completed more laps today but we didn't have enough tires available. We expect tomorrow to be another wet day but Thursday could see some dry running."
The season begins the weekend of March 16 in Melbourne, Australia.
McLaren Mercedes boffins stuck their heads out and pulled them back in, electing not to test in the poor weather. They will make another such determination about joining in after looking at Wednesday's skies. Ferrari are scheduled to join the umbrella holders Wednesday.
Super Aguri was scheduled to debut its 2008 car at Barcelona this week but circumstances the team didn't disclose forced postponement of that debut and postponement of testing this week. A statement said the team will test at Circuit de Catalunya next week. Force India released a schedule for media accommodation at the Circuit de Catalunya launch of its 2008 car, the VJM01, next week.
Testing on a wet track in a private test at Valencia, Spain, BMW Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica also ran limited laps. Revising the plan to system checks, data collection and running on wet and extreme wet tires, Kubica ran the F1.08 a mere 25 kilometers (15.5 miles). Heidfeld practiced starts. No times were released. Mechanics practiced pit stops.
Reports affecting Scuderia Toro Rosso say that team logistics manager Walter Totschnig has died at age 67 from pneumonia in hospital in Switzerland. Friend of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, a fellow amateur rally racer, Totschnig spent 13 years at Sauber before moving to Toro Rosso.