Kovalainen leads on Jerez day one

Due to Spa being dropped from the 2006 calendar there is a three week break between Italy and China and while most teams are expected on the test track next week, Renault, Honda and Red Bull are working at the Spanish circuit of Jerez this week. Ferrari is also currently testing, today at Paul Ricard in France.

Heikki Kovalainen.
Photo by Alessio Morgese.

At Jerez it was Renault tester Heikki Kovalainen who topped the times and the team also had development driver Jose Maria Lopez on duty, third fastest. Kovalainen, who moves up to a race seat next season, clocked a best of 1:17.236 and worked on tyres while Lopez focused on set up and brake development.

"We were expecting dirty track conditions that were changing all the way through the day, but this didn't prove to be the case," said chief test engineer Christian Silk. "Conditions were good immediately which allowed us to make good progress with our tyre testing. Heikki and Jose both put in a good day's work."

Honda employed test driver Anthony Davidson, second fastest, and Rubens Barrichello, who was fourth on the time sheet. Both spent the morning working on set up and aerodynamic evaluations, while tyres were the focus for the afternoon. Barrichello also carried out some electronic systems work.

Red Bull's Robert Doornbos was fifth quickest as he prepared for his race debut with the team in China, where he will replace Christian Klien. The second Red Bull car was driven by German GP2 racer Michael Ammermuller, who is rumoured to step into Doornbos' third driver role for the rest of the season. He rounded off the times in sixth.

At the Paul Ricard HTTT Michael Schumacher was the sole Ferrari at work. On the 2A-SC track configuration the German focused on tyres and covered 215 laps with a best time of 1:00.158. Schumacher is scheduled to continue in France tomorrow while teammate Felipe Massa will be at Fiorano.