Piquet fastest at Silverstone test

Testing continued at Silverstone on September 20th with 12 drivers from six teams working at the British track. On his second day as a Renault tester Nelson A. Piquet made an impression with the fastest time, 1:19.565, while fellow team tester Heikki Kovalainen made it a Renault one-two, just over a tenth off Piquet. They focused on tyres and Piquet continued to set the car up to his liking.

Nelson A. Piquet.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"This was another day of learning and improving for me," he said. "The more laps I do, the better things are getting and I feel like I am improving with every run. We did a good variety of long runs and shorter runs today, and the car felt really good as we started making some set-up changes. I am looking forward to another strong day tomorrow."

Third on the time sheet was McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa and Lewis Hamilton was back behind the wheel for the Woking squad, sixth quickest. De la Rosa worked on tyres and set up for China and Japan, while Hamilton, on his first full day of testing, focused on acclimatizing himself with the car.

"It has been a positive session, working through more systems checks with the car during the day, with my focus on this rather than going for times," said Hamilton. "It is a steep learning curve, and as a result I am making sure I get the most out of my time with the test team and the engineers."

Franck Monatgny was again on test duties for Toyota and was fourth fastest, while Ralf Schumacher was seventh. Cool conditions in the morning compromised Montagny's tyre programme but he managed to get some work done in the afternoon. Schumacher was hampered by engine issues that eventually resulted in a failure.

"We were glad to have Franck join us for another day of testing on such short notice," said test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer. "I think he has made a positive impact over these two days and are grateful for his help in preparing the cars. Ralf's day was a bit more challenging. He got in some good running in the morning, but his car suffered an engine failure, ending his day earlier than planned."

Williams' testers Alex Wurz and Narain Karthikeyan were fifth and 11th respectively. "Narain continued with the systems checks on the interim FW28B and successfully completed a considerable number of laps over the course of the day," said test team manager Mike Condliffe. "Alex drove the FW28A Cosworth-powered car to evaluate tyre compounds for Suzuka and various components for Shanghai."

Both of the Super Aguris racers were on track, sharing the SA-06 chassis, Takuma Sato eighth and Sakon Yamamoto 10th. Yamamoto completed 27 laps in the morning, working on aerodynamics and tyres. Sato took over in the afternoon and focused on longer tyre runs over 40 laps. Sato will be the sole representative of the team on Thursday.

F1 rookies Alexandre Premat and Ronnie Quintarelli were in the Spyker MF1 cockpits. Premat worked on tyres while preparing for his debut as the team's Friday driver in China and was ninth overall. Quintarelli, who will pilot the car at a demonstration event in Italy this coming weekend, only did half a dozen shakedown laps and did not set a representative time.

At Jerez BMW Sauber was joined by Honda, both with two drivers apiece. BMW's Robert Kubica top time, 1:16.491, was a second up on teammate Nick Heidfeld and they worked on tyres, brakes and aero. Honda testers Anthony Davidson and James Rossiter were third and fourth respectively and they focused on tyres, electronics and aero.

Ferrari had two drivers on track at Mugello, Michael Schumacher's best time of 1:21.362 just over a second up on test driver Marc Gen?. Their work for the day was testing new aerodynamic and mechanical components, as well as tyres for the last three races. Luca Badoer will take over from Gen? tomorrow, while Felipe Massa will be at Fiorano.