With the start of the 2006 season only a few weeks away the testing activity continued unabated on February 16th at various circuits. Valencia was once again where most of the action was to be found and Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen set...
With the start of the 2006 season only a few weeks away the testing activity continued unabated on February 16th at various circuits. Valencia was once again where most of the action was to be found and Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen set the best time of 1:10.631. Giancarlo Fisichella was also on duty and was third on the time sheet.
As can happen with the unofficial test times there was some discrepancy in the order of the list but Kovalainen, at least, was agreed to be the fastest. Fisichella suffered some problems but it was a productive day. "This was one of our best days of the winter," said chief test engineer Christian Silk. "We did more than 1000 km with only minor problems on both cars, and the R26 seems very competitive."
McLaren had Juan Pablo Montoya second quickest and Kimi Raikkonen fifth. In the two MP4-21 cars, the pair focused on set up and component proving specifically for the first three races. Raikkonen will continue on Friday and tester Pedro de la Rosa will take over the cockpit of the second car.
On the final day of Williams' testing week Nico Rosberg was fourth overall and tester Alex Wurz was seventh. "Despite strong winds which lasted for most of the day, we still managed to continue putting mileage on the engine and gearbox," said technical director Sam Michael. "We also completed some tyre testing, as well as brake and general set-up work."
David Coulthard was the sole representative of Red Bull and clocked the sixth best time. The Scot worked on set up, tyres and control systems. "Actually, it was difficult to evaluate anything much in the morning, as there were very strong winds blowing across the circuit," said technical director Mark Smith.
MF1 rounded off the times with Christijan Albers eighth and junior driver Adrian Sutil ninth. In the M16 Albers also struggled with the windy weather while Sutil experienced technical gremlins with the EJ15B chassis on his first day. Tiago Monteiro will be on track for the final day on Friday.
BMW Sauber concluded its week at Barcelona with Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve both running race simulations. Heidfeld was the quicker with a best time of 1:15.928 and Villeneuve was nine tenths behind. The team will be back in action at Imola next week.
In Bahrain Felipe Massa was the quickest man at Sakhir and set a best time of 1:30.578 in the V10-powered F2004. Like Massa, Michael Schumacher worked on tyres and set up but only completed 23 laps in the 248 and was at the bottom of the times in sixth. Ferrari did not explain why he only ran in the last couple of hours of the day.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello rounded off Honda's test week with second and fourth respectively. Tyres, chassis evaluation and pit stop practice were Button's schedule while Barrichello completed a race simulation and also worked on suspension and aerodynamics.
"Testing in Bahrain has been very useful this week and I'm really pleased that we decided to come here," said Barrichello. "We did a lot of work on the tyres and the engine and covered many laps. We have had a few minor issues which was good because we could learn what the problems are and then fix them before the race."
Toro Rosso race drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed traded cockpit time between them in the morning and afternoon and were third and fifth fastest respectively. In the RB1 V10 they practiced for the new qualifying system and did long runs with pit stop simulations of refuelling and tyre changes on the last day of the team's test.
Toyota concluded a three-day programme at Vallelunga where Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were on duty. Assessment of the new aerodynamic package was the focus, although the weather wasn't very helpful. Trulli, who was the quicker of the two today with a time of 1:15.900, was the first to try the revised TF106, while Ralf drove the previous version.
"My first impressions are really positive," Trulli said. "The car felt good and it shows promise, enabling us to carry out a tyre test on the second day. Next week we will go to Barcelona, which will be a better guide to this car's true potential."
Note: the order on the time sheets as reported here is based on the times given by each team for their individual drivers.