On day three of the week's testing at Valencia Toyota's Ralf Schumacher ousted McLaren's Fernando Alonso from the top of the time sheet. Schumacher was the only Toyota driver present, due to an overheating issue on the other car, and clocked a best of 1:11.297 in the TF107. A fuel pump gremlin hampered him at lunchtime but mostly his set up programme was trouble free.
"The car again felt good and in the afternoon I had the chance to work on set-up which seemed to go quite well," he commented. "I am still optimistic about this car's potential but it is too early to say where we stand compared with the others. It was nice to set the fastest time of the day but we still have a lot of work to do."
In a repeat of Wednesday, Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella and teammate Heikki Kovalainen were second and third respectively, Fisichella just over two tenths off Schumacher. Reliability over a race distance was the focus for the pair, plus practice of pit stops and starts.
"We had good track conditions for the first time this week, and we made good progress with the programme," said Fisichella. "That's a satisfying result, and I think we are pretty pleased with the information we have collected today."
Alonso's McLaren was fourth on the time sheet and team test driver Pedro de la Rosa was seventh overall, both driving an MP4-22 chassis. With the improved weather conditions the team was able to complete the drivers' scheduled programmes of set up and aerodynamic development. Lewis Hamilton is due on track on Friday.
Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber took the fifth spot and teammate Robert Kubica was ninth. Heidfeld covered 100 laps working on set up and tyre comparisons but Kubica only managed 19 due to technical problems. The Pole will continue on Friday and tester Sebastian Vettel will take over from Heidfeld in the other new chassis.
In the Ferrari F2007 Kimi Raikkonen posted the sixth best time and Felipe Massa was a couple behind in eighth in last year's 248 F1. Raikkonen's continuing development of the new car was cut short due to a technical problem in the afternoon but Massa completed his programme of testing new components.
Jenson Button was the lead Honda, 10th in the RA107, and tester James Rossiter was 13th in the 2006 RA106 but only did a couple of laps as the team decided to focus on development of the new car. Button carried out set up and evaluation of the new chassis -- Honda will extend its schedule through Friday due to poor weather earlier in the week.
Super Aguri was represented by Anthony Davidson, 11th on the time sheet. At the time of writing the team hadn't provided any test information but, curiously, Spyker just announced that Giedo van der Garde is to be one of their testers for 2007.
Until yesterday the Dutchman was a contracted Super Aguri tester and was with the Japanese team at Valencia, trying to get enough mileage to secure his superlicense. Super Aguri is reportedly 'surprised' by the Spyker announcement and a contract dispute could well follow.
Red Bull had both race drivers on track, David Coulthard 12th and Mark Webber 14th. The team has not had much running in the last couple of days but managed just over 90 laps on Thursday, although the results were not terribly impressive as far as the time sheet was concerned. Williams test driver Kazuki Nakajima rounded off the list in 15th.