On a day that begun in overcast and ended in sunshine, rookie Nelsinho Piquet shook off a few personal clouds to post fast time in the final day of Formula One testing at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona, Spain. Nelson A....
On a day that begun in overcast and ended in sunshine, rookie Nelsinho Piquet shook off a few personal clouds to post fast time in the final day of Formula One testing at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona, Spain.
The second-generation F1 driver whose job has been perceived as under threat whisked his Renault R28-04 to a 1-minute, 20.076-second lap that underscored quicks as the top time of the three-day test. Veteran test drivers Pedro de la Rosa of McLaren (1:20.402) and Luca Badoer of Ferrari (1:20.889) were the only other drivers to crack the 1:21 mark. Piquet dropped a second off Badoer's best time from Friday. Badoer had posted Thursday's top time as well. All test times are unofficial.
Piquet completed the team's preparations for the upcoming French Grand Prix with aerodynamic evaluations and suspension setups. He also simulated qualifying sessions among 112 laps run.
"Once again we completed the work that we had planned without any problems and we learnt a lot of things," Piquet said. "We continued with the program we started yesterday by putting some new things on the car that the team hope to run in the coming races. I also had the chance to do some qualifying simulations in the afternoon, which went well. It's nice to be top of the times, but as this is only testing we have to treat these times with caution."
Chief test engineer Christian Silk said, "That has given us lots more data, which we will analyze in the coming days so that we can approach the French Grand Prix in the best shape possible. Overall, it has been a positive three days here in Barcelona."
The remainder of the nine drivers were covered by a second. Mark Webber, who took over from David Coulthard for Red Bull, posted a best lap of 1:21.037 in 92 laps. Toyota's Timo Glock continued to test and ran a 1:21.158 in 86 laps. Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber stepped in for Robert Kubica and set a 1:21.295 in 88 laps. Testing for a second day, Rubens Barrichello of Honda rolled up a 1:21.672 in 83 laps. Also in for another day, Nico Hulkenberg of Williams set a 1:21.674 in 60 laps. Sebastian Vettel took over from Sebastien Bourdais and posted a 1:21.880 in a Toro Rosso STR3 in 72 laps.
Heidfeld worked on adapting the F1.08 to better suit him. That included evaluating setups as well as confirming the setups set forth in two test days by Kubica, who then headed off to Warsaw, Poland, to participate in BMW's Pit Lane fan extravaganza.
Barrichello continued chassis setup work, slowed by a light, late-morning shower. By afternoon, the Brazilian added suspension evaluation to the mix. He completed 83 laps.
"We had a good two days in Barcelona this week and were able to cover a lot of mileage," Barrichello said. "Without any major new test items, we focused on setup work and I'm happy with the progress that we made. We were able to improve the car mechanically, which gives me a good feeling going into the French Grand Prix next weekend."
Steve Clark, head of race and test engineering, said, "As we did not have any significant aero developments at this test, we concentrated on the setup and balance of the RA108 to address some of the issues that we have identified at recent grands prix. We also introduced some suspension components, which will open up the possibility to further improve the car at future races. From Barcelona, we now head to the center of France for the next race in Magny-Cours. The Circuit de Nevers is a high-downforce track with a smooth surface, which should suit our car much better than the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal."