It was another busy day on the test track at Jerez, where 16 drivers from eight teams were at work. Ferrari's Felipe Massa took over the top of the times with a best of 1:19.647 in the F2007, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen was likewise in a new car and was fourth overall. The Finn lost time with a technical problem and the team was also hampered by rain in the afternoon.
Robert Kubica was the better of the BMW Sauber duo in second, a tenth and a half off Massa, and Nick Heidfeld was 11th on the time sheet. Kubica carried out set up and aerodynamic work as well as comparison of mechanical components. It was Heidfeld's first day of this test and his programme was similar to his teammate's, with other work on systems checks and brake cooling.
Lewis Hamilton was third quickest in the McLaren MP4-22 and teammate Fernando Alonso was fifth, just fractionally behind Raikkonen. Set up, aerodynamics, brakes and power steering made up their programme and although Alonso stopped out on the circuit with an oil pressure loss, the Spaniard was able to quickly return to work.
Renault continued with its test drivers on duty, Nelson A. Piquet sixth fastest and Ricardo Zonta 14th. Piquet carried out set up on short runs and after his debut yesterday Zonta began a full technical programme, focusing on aero configurations and brakes. The team reported some interesting data which will hopefully be confirmed tomorrow and in future tests.
"We made some good progress today, particularly with Nelson's car on which we found some interesting set-up directions that we will explore further over the next tests," said chief test engineer Christian Silk. "Ricardo is now feeling more comfortable in the car and was able to start his full programme today. He evaluated a variety of different aerodynamic configurations, but like any new driver he is still getting used to working with his new team and a new car."
Williams race drivers Alex Wurz and Nico Rosberg were seventh and eighth respectively. Both were behind the wheel of an FW29 and experienced no particular difficulties. They ran different mechanical and aero set ups as well as brake work and long runs for reliability testing.
Toyota fielded both its race drivers, Ralf Schumacher ninth and Jarno Trulli 15th. Set up and suspension were their main focus but after a productive morning there was a difficult afternoon. Schumacher's car stopped out on track with a gearshift gremlin and Trulli's required repairs to the fuel tank.
"This morning we tried several different things to see how they affect the balance of the car and that should help us understand the set-up better," said Schumacher. "It was a bit difficult for me in the afternoon because I did not run very much due to the repairs on my car. Overall, we are definitely making progress but we still have work to do before the start of the season."
Red Bull also employed its race drivers, Mark Webber and David Coulthard 10th and 12th respectively. Honda had Jenson Button in the RA107, 13th fastest, and also IRL driver Marco Andretti was testing again, in the RA106. The American rounded off the time sheet in 16th and was just under a second and a half off Button's time.
Meanwhile, at Silverstone Spyker concluded its shakedown of the F8-V11 with Adrian Sutil taking over from teammate Christijan Albers. The team continued with yesterday's work of gathering data from the engine and control systems ahead of the car's first full test at Barcelona next week.
Sutil managed 26 laps before he hit the icy kerbs and slid into the barriers. The car suffered some damage and due to deteriorating weather conditions Spyker opted to return to the factory. "Today was actually very good for a first roll out, and the car was quick," said the German rookie. "This year's car is definitely better than last year's car and we had no real technical problems."
"I put in some quick lap times from the start and I could tell the engine was very, very good. Of course the end of the day was disappointing; I went on the kerb and touched a strip of damp grass -- if you touch it you know you will have problems. It wasn't a big crash; we will repair the car and get out back in time for Barcelona."