F1

McLaren shines on last day at Bahrain

McLaren shines on last day at Bahrain

The week's testing concluded at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit on February 24th and McLaren showed its muscle, with reigning world champion Fernando Alonso fastest, 1:30.994, and rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton second, just a tenth off. Their day was...

The week's testing concluded at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit on February 24th and McLaren showed its muscle, with reigning world champion Fernando Alonso fastest, 1:30.994, and rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton second, just a tenth off. Their day was not without problems, however: a hydraulic issue for Alonso and an engine failure for Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"It has been interesting to get the MP4-22 on track in the consistent weather conditions of Bahrain," said Alonso. "We have been able to get a fuller understanding of the car and how it works in the warmer temperatures, including looking at areas such as the cooling system, which has been productive."

Following in formation were the two Ferrari's, Felipe Massa third quickest, seven tenths off Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen was fourth. They completed long runs for engine endurance and also carried out race simulations, including pit stops, electronic controls, set up changes and comparisons of mechanical components.

Heikki Kovalainen was the lead Renault in fifth and team test driver Nelson A. Piquet was ninth on the time sheet. Renault described it as a productive final day, Kovalainen focusing on set up, balance and tyres and Piquet Junior evaluating mechanical alternatives in regard to chassis and tyre data.

"Our car has been very reliable, and the car has responded well to the different set-up options we have studied this week," said chief test engineer Christian Silk. "Both drivers were very focused for all three days. For Heikki, it's an advantage to gain further experience on the circuit where he will compete in his third Grand Prix. As for Nelsinho, it was a good chance to work with the race team."

The Honda duo of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button were in polite formation, sixth and seventh respectively. Aero, set up and tyres were their programme over the three days and aerodynamic evaluation and race simulations were the focus for today.

"This week we have continued our programme of set-up work on the car and assessed some new aero parts which we are running for the first time," said Button. "We also completed a number of race distance simulations which went smoothly. We have one final test now before the start of the season so I'm looking forward to next week and having some more new parts to test."

David Coulthard was the lead Red Bull in eighth and teammate Mark Webber was 14th. "As far as cooling and brakes are concerned, we look in good shape and, although we still have some reliability concerns, I think we can sort these out before tackling the next three days of testing here," said head of race and test engineering Paul Monaghan.

The BMW Saubers were also tidily line astern, Nick Heidfeld 10th and Robert Kubica 11th. Aerodynamic comparison of the front wing in the morning led to tyre work and set up later on. Heidfeld had an unplanned engine change but generally it was a productive day for BMW.

Anthony Davidson concluded Super Aguri's single car week with 12th place. Much like rivals, the team focused today on race simulations for Melbourne, including qualifying runs, grid preparation and overall race conditions. "It has been a positive test for the team and we have continued to learn about the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres," said Davidson.

"It was interesting having two different compounds here and we found good car balance with both types. I feel that we have been competitive with our lap times, especially on the longer runs, and with the reliability of the car. As the track grip improved it seemed to suit the car more and more, and this gives me a good indication of rubber levels that we will see over the race weekend."

Toyota was toiling away towards the back of the times, tester Franck Montagny 13th and Jarno Trulli 15th. Fine tuning of the TF107 was the order of the day, including long runs, aerodynamics and set up. "It was an interesting day because both of the cars did over a hundred laps," Montagny commented.

"This morning we were able to do a race distance with no problems. Unfortunately my fastest lap time was not great so that was disappointing but step by step we will find that. It was more important that we completed our programme and did a race distance on the new gearbox. We also worked on some aero things in the afternoon and now we will see how that all comes together next week."

Scott Speed rounded off the times in 16th for Toro Rosso and the Faenza squad finally confirmed that the bristly Californian will race for the team again this year. Hooray! Tonio Liuzzi was also on duty this week and development of the new STR chassis was the programme for the three days.

"By the third day, we managed to increase our number of laps and pick up some speed, as we worked on aero and mechanical set up, as well as evaluating the two types of tyre Bridgestone will make available to us for the race here in April," commented chief engineer Laurent Mekies.

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