Coulthard surprises on last day at Barcelona

Coulthard surprises on last day at Barcelona

The last day of testing this week at the Circuit de Catalunya saw Red Bull's David Coulthard spring a bit of a surprise. The team has been low profile so far in winter testing but of the 19 drivers present at the Spanish circuit Coulthard clocked...

The last day of testing this week at the Circuit de Catalunya saw Red Bull's David Coulthard spring a bit of a surprise. The team has been low profile so far in winter testing but of the 19 drivers present at the Spanish circuit Coulthard clocked the best time of 1:21.855. However, it was mixed fortunes as teammate Mark Webber was 11th quickest but suffered a drive train problem.

David Coulthard.
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"We are very pleased with the way this three day test has gone," said head of race and test engineering Paul Monaghan, who was more impressed with Coulthard's 116 laps than the Scot's time. "We can be happy with the mileage we have completed over the three days and also with the fact that our relationship with Renault and Bridgestone continues to improve, as has the overall performance and reliability of the car."

Second quickest was the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, a tenth off Coulthard, and Kimi Raikkonen was seventh on the time sheet. The gap between the Ferrari teammates' positions on the list might seem larger than one would expect but the time difference was less than half a second. They worked on set up and both completed enough laps to complete the duty cycle for each of their engines.

Nick Heidfeld led for BMW Sauber in third and team test driver Sebastian Vettel was 15th. Heidfeld started with aero testing but the team decided to switch his programme to cooling checks due to windy track conditions. Vettel also did aero work but had some technical issues and also went off track a couple of time.

McLaren fielded Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, fourth and sixth quickest respectively. The squad's three days in Spain featured a programme of race simulations, including pit stop practice so the race team could acclimatize to new equipment, and ongoing development of the car.

McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh commented: "In addition to the work on track, Pedro (de la Rosa) has spent time at the McLaren Technology Centre today working with the engineers in Woking on a simultaneous programme to that being run by Fernando and Lewis, as we push hard on all fronts to maximise the performance of this car."

Nico Rosberg led the Williams due in fifth and Alex Wurz was 13th. "Today Nico worked his way through a series of suspension work while Alex concentrated on fuel mapping tests and gearbox development," said test team manager Mike Condliffe. "The test here in Barcelona has been very encouraging and we look forward to continuing our progress in Valencia next week."

Test driver Franck Montagny was the quicker of the two Toyotas in eighth and Ralf Schumacher was 16th. Montagny focused on long runs, although the team took the opportunity for a routine engine change when the Frenchman encountered a gearbox gremlin. It was Schumacher first visit to the track since the new chicane was introduced and he tried out the seamless shift gearbox and carried out set up work.

"Unfortunately I missed out on some running when I suffered a gearbox control problem and had to stop on the circuit," said Montagny. "Before that it had been going quite well and we collected more information on long runs with these tyres. There may no longer be a tyre war but it is still useful to find out about the tyres we have in relation to individual circuits."

The Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen completed the top 10 in ninth and 10th respectively but it was a disrupted day for the pair. Fisichella's car had a mechanical failure in the morning but managed to continue with aero evaluation in the afternoon, while Kovalainen's set up work was cut short by a mechanical problem, which the team described as minor but needed lengthy repairs.

"We got through a lot of the programme and made some good progress, but we still have some unanswered questions -- which is why we are looking forward to testing in Bahrain next week," said chief test engineer Christian Silk. "We are taking a step forward at each test, we are feeling more confident about our package, and that was the case again this week."

Rubens Barrichello was the lead Honda in 12th and teammate Jenson Button was 14th. Barrichello was stopped short after 39 laps due to an exhaust problem that damaged the car, while Button concentrated on set up over long tyre runs. Tester Christian Klien had his first taste of the new car earlier in the week, although the poor weather hampered him.

"For the last European winter test this week, we had two RA107 cars on hand," said engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert. "Additionally we had a number of new parts to evaluate before we run our final package for the first race of the season in Bahrain next week. Once again we focused on finding a good balance over the longer runs, particularly during the warmer conditions of the afternoon session."

Christijan Albers rounded off Spyker's week with 17th on the time sheet. The team described the first full test of the F8-VII as successful and without any major problems. Today Albers worked on gathering tyre data over long runs. "From a reliability point of view, we've had an excellent day with no real mechanical issues and we were able to complete our programme," said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne.

Albers commented: "Today we did make some progress with the times; of course we would have liked to make more time compared to yesterday, but we did our best and the team is working really hard and putting in the hours to improve. I'm quite happy with results; as a racing driver, you always want to go faster and I think we're doing a reasonable job to achieve this. We know we still have a way to go, but at least we are able to fight."

Takuma Sato was 18th for Super Aguri and concluded with set up and tyre work. "In the morning we worked on various car developments which do not always help finding a good balance," he said. "However the car was very reliable so we completed a race simulation in the afternoon, collecting valuable data and making progress. So it wasn't easy for us but it was a good test overall."

Toro Rosso managed to get the new STR2 rolling today with Tonio Liuzzi completing a "relatively" trouble free shakedown. The Italian rounded off the times in 19th. "The last few weeks have been a real rush for all of us," said chief engineer Laurent Mekies. "So it was great to see our new car finally running and completing a respectable 43 laps."

"This was very much a shakedown and systems check, with no thought of setting quick lap times. Now, we must push very hard over the coming weeks to make up for the fact we have only started running quite late. Like everyone else, our next step is the test at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, starting on 22 February."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Franck Montagny , Fernando Alonso , Alexander Wurz , Christijan Albers , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Christian Klien , Mike Gascoyne , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams