Hamilton leads on day one of Spa test

Hamilton leads on day one of Spa test

After the back-to-back races in France and Britain Formula One is back in action on the test track, this week at the famous location of Spa-Francorchamps. It's the first time F1 has visited since the 2005 Belgian Grand Prix and revisions to the ...

After the back-to-back races in France and Britain Formula One is back in action on the test track, this week at the famous location of Spa-Francorchamps. It's the first time F1 has visited since the 2005 Belgian Grand Prix and revisions to the circuit include the pits, the start/finish straight and the final chicane. All 11 teams were in action on the first day with one driver apiece.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes.
Photo by xpb.cc.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man with a best time of 1:46.613. He initially worked on aerodynamics in regard to downforce settings for the Nurburgring and for the race at this track in September, then long runs for tyre assessment and also some practice starts. Fernando Alonso is scheduled to be on duty on Wednesday.

Second quickest was BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, just over four tenths off Hamilton. It was the Pole's first visit to Spa in an F1 car and he focused mainly on mechanical and aerodynamic set up for the Belgian GP. He also tried out some new mechanical components. Teammate Nick Heidfeld will reportedly not attend this test in order to rest his back.

Felipe Massa was behind the wheel for Ferrari and was third overall, just under eight tenths off the top McLaren. Massa started a programme of set up and development of new components and completed 64 laps. The Brazilian is expected to continue tomorrow, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen will arrive later in the week.

Ralf Schumacher was fourth on the time sheet for Toyota and his programme included the usual set up and tyre work, as well as damper comparisons and other system checks. "It is good to have the chance to test here before the race because it enables us to have a preview of the new track layout," said test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer.

"The drivers can get used to the circuit and we can work on tyre comparisons with the new surface as well as race start simulations. This gives everyone a useful head start for the Belgian Grand Prix. We are also preparing for the coming races and we put some work on dampers and other systems today. We completed our programme without major issues so this has been a positive day."

Renault had test driver Nelson A. Piquet on track and he was fifth fastest. An electronic problem stopped him late in the morning but he was able to continue without too much delay. Piquet, also a Spa debutant in an F1 car, had a workload of chassis and engine set up for the race here and also for the team's ongoing development programme.

"I was happy to be able to do today's test on this circuit which is certainly one of the most beautiful in the world," he commented. "It's undulating and there are several sections with a succession of challenging corners; it's very demanding. I had a small problem this morning but this afternoon we were able to cover a lot of laps and we made excellent progress."

Red Bull fielded David Coulthard, sixth, and the Scot worked mainly on aerodynamics. Tonio Liuzzi was in the cockpit for sister team Toro Rosso and his focus was downforce assessment for this track as well as set up and tyres, although a transmission problem delayed him. Coulthard is back on track tomorrow and Sebastien Bourdais takes over at Toro Rosso.

Tester James Rossiter put his Super Aguri seventh on the time sheet while working on electronic systems and set up. Nico Rosberg was Williams' representative for the say and posted the ninth best time but his day was interrupted by an unspecified problem. Despite that he managed to complete sixty laps, albeit over two and a half seconds off the lead pace.

"We spent the morning completing set-up runs and then in the afternoon we carried out a race simulation, said test team manager Dickie Stanford. "Unfortunately a problem slowed our progress mid afternoon. Nevertheless, we still completed a considerable number of laps today. Tomorrow, Nico will be driving again and we will carry on with our set-up work for the forthcoming races."

Honda test driver Christian Klien, who has been linked to the newly-arisen race seat vacancy at Spyker, was 10th fastest and focused on aero evaluations and race start simulations. It was a Spyker that rounded off the times: tester Giedo van der Garde was 11th and his programme was the usual set up and aerodynamic work.

"The build of the car here includes many development components in all the major systems of the car that need mileage and data collection before they can race," said Spyker chief race and test engineer Dominic Harlow, who also praised the new facilities. "In addition the team carried out some aerodynamic and brake system tests."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Sébastien Bourdais , Nico Rosberg , Giedo van der Garde , James Rossiter , Christian Klien , Robert Kubica
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams