After a two-day break, the ING Renault F1 Team today resumed work at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit, beginning its final three-day test session of the 2007 pre-season. Representing the world champions this week are race drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen.
Giancarlo Fisichella joined the team during the weekend, and was able to begin his programme today. The Italian focused on completing a race distance this morning, which was eventually completed in spite of a delay owing to a mechanical incident. Subsequently, he focused on set-up work aimed at improving the car balance. By the end of the day, Giancarlo had completed 81 laps, and finished sixth on the timesheets with a best lap of 1:32.556.
On the other side of the garage, team-mate Heikki Kovalainen endured a difficult day. After his programme was delayed by minor technical problems during the morning, he then crashed heavily just before lunchtime. He walked away from the accident unhurt, but the car was severely damaged, preventing him from running again during the afternoon. Repairs to the car are now underway, to allow Heikki to resume his programme as soon as possible during the day tomorrow.
"I am pleased to be back in the car for this final test session of the winter. It's an important session for me, because it will give us all a good feel for things ahead of Melbourne, and allow us to complete our final preparations. We have a lot of work to do and today was a good start for the rest of the week."
"I had a pretty big accident today -- I got caught out in turn seven and the car hit the barriers quite hard. All the safety systems worked perfectly so I am fine, but there is quite a lot of damage to the car and I may not be able to start running again until tomorrow afternoon."
"That will delay our programme, which is frustrating, but the focus now is on working with the team to get the car ready as soon as possible. Once it is, I will be 100% concentrated on completing the rest of our work. We are already in a good position after running for three days last week, but there are still some important preparations to be completed before we get to Melbourne."
Christian Silk, Chief test engineer:
"For the team, today was all about getting back in the groove after our short break. With Giancarlo, we concentrated on race distance work before starting to work on the set-up, which gave some good results. Heikki's day was obviously interrupted by the accident. We were pleased to see him walk away unharmed, and the car did its job in protecting him. We hope he will be able to continue with his programme tomorrow."
81 laps, 434 km
Fastest lap: 1:32.556
19 laps, 102 km
Fastest lap: 1:32.688