The start of the 2007 season is drawing ever closer and this week and next the majority of teams are at the Bahrain International Circuit for the final two test sessions before Melbourne. February 22nd kicked off the first three-day session and 16...
The start of the 2007 season is drawing ever closer and this week and next the majority of teams are at the Bahrain International Circuit for the final two test sessions before Melbourne. February 22nd kicked off the first three-day session and 16 drivers from nine teams were on track at Sakhir; only Spyker and Williams have opted to stay in Europe.
Ferrari set the pace on day one, in warm and dry conditions, with Felipe Massa at the top of the time sheet, 1:31.776, and teammate Kimi Raikkonen a tenth and a quarter behind in second. They began work on a technical programme which focused on endurance work, set up and electronics testing.
Third on the time sheet was the Honda of Jenson Button and teammate Rubens Barrichello was fifth fastest. Button carried out some initial set up in the new 04 chassis in the morning then worked on tyres and aerodynamics. Barrichello also did set up then long runs over a race distance to evaluate two different tyres.
Following Button was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in fourth and team tester Pedro de la Rosa was sixth. They focused on sign-off elements of the MP4-22 package, such as software, and also ran the Melbourne-spec chassis for the first time. Fernando Alonso is due to join Hamilton on Friday.
Test driver Sebastian Vettel was the lead BMW Sauber in seventh and Nick Heidfeld was ninth. Their programme included set up, tyres and aerodynamics but while Vettel had a trouble-free day, Heidfeld experienced technical problems and only completed 19 laps. Robert Kubica is scheduled to join Heidfeld tomorrow.
Jarno Trulli was the better of the Toyota racers, eighth quickest, and Ralf Schumacher was 15th. They carried out evaluation of new aerodynamic parts as well as tyres and set up but the day was not without difficulties. Trulli had a gearbox gremlin and Schumacher suffered first with a clutch issue then differential control problem.
"It was not a good day unfortunately," Trulli commented. "We had a few issues and the car was in the garage quite a lot. We did not do as many miles as we had hoped for so we still have some things to focus on. Now I hope we can do more miles tomorrow so we can make progress."
Anthony Davidson was the sole Super Aguri driver on track and rounded off the top ten in 10th. His work was set up, controls and aerodynamic analysis, as well as comparing the differences in the two types of tyre available. Davidson is the only driver Super Aguri intends to field over these three days.
Representing Renault this week are Heikki Kovalainen, who was 11th, and team test driver Nelson A. Piquet, a couple of tenths behind in 12th. They completed race distances in the morning and followed up with set up and data collection in the afternoon. The team described the day as an encouraging start.
"The track conditions were pretty good straight away this morning, and that allowed us to begin our programme immediately," said Kovalainen. "We did the planned race distance without any problems, which was a good start, and we then worked on car set-up, which gives us a good basis for the rest of the week."
Red Bull employed both its race drivers, Mark Webber 13th and David Coulthard 14th. Sister team Toro Rosso had Tonio Liuzzi on duty and the Italian rounded off the times in 16th. All three experienced problems: a fuel pressure glitch for Webber and unspecified mechanical/technical issues for Liuzzi and Coulthard.