The week's testing continued at Spa-Francorchamps on July 11th and once again 11 teams were on track and fielded one driver each. The Belgian circuit's unpredictable weather was certainly a factor on Wednesday as intermittent rain showers...
The week's testing continued at Spa-Francorchamps on July 11th and once again 11 teams were on track and fielded one driver each. The Belgian circuit's unpredictable weather was certainly a factor on Wednesday as intermittent rain showers disrupted many programmes. Few drivers did more than 50 laps in the mixed conditions.
Felipe Massa took over the top of the times for Ferrari, his best of the day a 1:46.698. The Brazilian worked on set up and development of new components and completed 56 laps. Fernando Alonso was second fastest for McLaren, just over three tenths off Massa. He concluded the team's aerodynamic programme, as well as work on set up, systems and dampers.
Renault's Heikki Kovalainen was third on the time sheet and like team test driver Nelson A. Piquet, who was on duty yesterday, it was his first time at Spa in an F1 car. His preparation for the Belgian GP, and earlier upcoming races, focused on set up programmes in the dry and wet in regard to the handling and balance of the car.
"We tried to get the most out of the changing track conditions by working on tuning the set-up for the wet conditions, particularly focusing on the control systems," Kovalainen commented. "That was a good programme, and we found some interesting things. In spite of the changeable weather, I think we got the most out of the day, and the results were encouraging."
Fourth fastest was Toyota's Ralf Schumacher. Due to the weather he delayed starting his programme until mid-morning, then headed out to commence engine, cooling and other systems work. In the afternoon more rain gave the team chance to try out some wet set ups and a few practice starts but generally it was an inconclusive day.
"When it rains here like it did today it can be dry in one part of the circuit and wet in another, making it difficult to draw comparisons," Schumacher remarked. "Still, over these two days we've completed some positive work despite the weather. The car performed well overall so we can look forward to the race here with confidence."
One man who managed to get a good result out of the mixed conditions was Spyker's Adrian Sutil. He managed fifth fastest after setting his best time when the track was drying out, about three tenths off Schumacher, and worked on set up and aerodynamics. Honda tester Christian Klien will be behind the wheel for Spyker on Thursday.
"Adrian completed his initial setup work and tyre evaluation before the familiar wet conditions set in over lunch," said chief race and test engineer Dominic Harlow. "The afternoon provided a useful opportunity to look at the Bridgestone wet tyres, and car settings for wet conditions in preparation for the race here, which is after all in September."
David Coulthard was sixth fastest for Red Bull and he focused on wet tyre work. Sister team Toro Rosso had Sebastien Bourdais on track and he was eighth quickest while working on brakes, aero and wet/extreme wet tyres. In between the two energy drink manufacturer teams' cars in seventh was Honda's Jenson Button.
Nico Rosberg continued for Williams and was ninth overall. "The whole session was severely hampered by rain today," said test team manager Dickie Stanford. "We spent most of the day carrying out our usual set-up preparations just waiting for dry spells and the opportunity to send the car out. As a result, we lost a lot of track time."
Anthony Davidson took over at Super Aguri and was 10th fastest; he spent much of his day working on electronic system analysis. BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica rounded off the times in 11th after a frustrating day. A gearbox problem and the contrary weather meant the Pole did little more than some wet tyre assessment and practice starts.
While many drivers are happy to be back at Spa one thing that hasn't met with approval is the pit entry, which has been altered since the last time F1 was at the circuit. It seems that the new entry is too narrow and difficult to see. The Grand Prix Drivers' Association has reportedly written to the FIA to request alterations before the September race.