The final day of testing at Silverstone was full of action and drama as the teams continued their test programmes in preparation for next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. Technical problems and a variety of weather conditions provided the teams with...
The final day of testing at Silverstone was full of action and drama as the teams continued their test programmes in preparation for next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. Technical problems and a variety of weather conditions provided the teams with many challenges and problems to overcome.
Ralf Schumacher was the fastest driver of the day, closely followed by Jenson Button who topped the times in the previous two days, and Olivier Panis in third place for BAR. The weather was hot and sunny, until 3pm when torrential rain closed the circuit. It re-opened at 3.45pm to allow the teams some wet-weather running.
Williams ran with Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gene, who were both driving 2002-spec chassis and worked on engine development, suspension components and tyre testing. Schumacher was the fastest driver with a 1m 22.151s lap and Gene was just a quarter of a second slower in 4th place. Schumacher lost an hour in the morning with an unspecified problem that caused to him to crawl back to the pits on his first flying lap. He spun off at Abbey on his second flying lap in the wet conditions sending the Williams slowly into the gravel trap. He managed a carbon-copy of the incident precisely one hour later, again sending the Williams backwards into the gravel at the same spot and was unable to continue. "The three day test in Silverstone have been successful from a BMW perspective" said Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director. However Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer, admitted that his programme had been disrupted by the weather.
Renault completed their test session, although Button's second fastest time meant that the team didn't dominate every day of the test. Button worked on tyre testing and set-up, and ran throughout the day apart from suffering a blown engine late in the afternoon.
Sauber had a successful day with Felipe Massa taking over from Nick Heidfeld in the sole chassis. "This test has allowed me to learn the Silverstone circuit which most of the other drivers know so well" said Massa, who liked the circuit very much and was pleased to set times similar to those of Heidfeld, He suffered only a minor spin at Abbey as he learned the circuit and managed to keep the engine running. The team also continued with aerodynamic work and tyre testing and Remi Decorzent, the race engineer, said: "We have been able to complete our various programs in preparation for Barcelona next weekend and for the British Grand Prix in July."
Jaguar continued with their programme and Pedro de la Rosa took over from Eddie Irvine. He ran 26 laps and was half a second off Schumacher's fastest time. The car coasted to a halt out on the circuit during the morning as it suffered an unspecified technical problem. However this was fixed by the late afternoon allowing de la Rosa to do some wet-weather running at the end of the session.
Jordan tested with race drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato again. Fisichella worked on tyre tests, front wing aerodynamic developments, traction control and general set-up. Meanwhile Sato worked on brake compounds, aerodynamic work, traction control, Honda's engine development programme and general set-up. The team also set up a refueling rig and practice pitstops with Sato. The Japanase driver was very pleased with the day's test, admitting: "It was cold, with no wind, everyone did quick laps and we were in good shape."
BAR ran just two cars today with race drivers Olivier Panis and Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel, setting the third and seventh fastest times respectively. Villeneuve stalled when doing a practice start on the circuit, so the car had to be wheeled back to the pitlane and he successfully did a start from there. Apart from that the team appeared to suffer no problems and did lots of short runs throughout the day, with Villeneuve pushing very hard on the wet track at the end of the session.
Arrows completed their test with Heinz-Harald Frentzen behind the wheel for the third day running. The team ran with heavy fuel loads and worked on traction control and launch control during the day. The car suffered a gearbox problem during the morning, but was fixed over the lunch period and allowed Frentzen to run in the wet at the end. The German suffered a minor off at Abbey but was able to continue without a problem. Graham Taylor, Chief Engineer, said; "It was good to complete the test's full schedule today and although we had some down-time late this morning due to a gearbox problem, we were able to fix that and get some really valuable data for Barcelona next weekend."
Minardi continued their rare test at Silverstone with Mark Webber taking over from Alex Yoong. The team worked on software development, chassis set-up and power-steering. The team suffered a slight set-back during the morning when the engine suffered a problem along the Hanger Straight and, in Webber's own words to his Italian mechanics, went "Boom!". This also affected the other teams as cement dust was laid over the oil on the approach to Stowe corner. "It was certainly good to have some testing mileage instead of just the usual short periods we have with the car on race weekends," said Webber, who finished some four seconds shy of Schumacher.