It's seriously on, now. With near perfect weather conditions and one more day of testing allowed, nearly all test drivers edged to the back of the garages, and nearly all race drivers putting in at least race distances. Formula One teams in ...
It's seriously on, now. With near perfect weather conditions and one more day of testing allowed, nearly all test drivers edged to the back of the garages, and nearly all race drivers putting in at least race distances. Formula One teams in Barcelona, Spain, were clock conscious Tuesday in as the season's first race looms.
McLaren Mercedes topped unofficial time charts in working through race-weekend situations that occupied many teams -- pit stop practices, qualifying simulations and fuel load assessments.
Lewis Hamilton led all runners with a quick lap of 1 minute, 21.234 seconds on the 4.655-kilometer (2.889-mile) Circuit de Catalunya. His teammate Heikki Kovalainen followed in 1:21.434 as they combined for 153 laps in MP4-23s. A slight fuel coupling issue was the only interruption to what winter tests have shown to be a formidable team ready to claim drivers and constructors titles booted last year. Both drivers stopped on track but without delay.
The world's best driver, Kimi Raikkonen, took his Ferrari F2008 to third on the time charts with a fast round of 1:21.722 in 72 laps of, as one would hope, furthering car development. Teammate Felipe Massa reclaimed his car from racer emeritus Michael Schumacher and ran one of the day's longest tours, 102 laps, that included a race simulation and a fifth-quick time of 1:22.513.
Williams were again intriguingly quick as Nice Rosberg placed the Toyota-powered FW30 among the strong with a fourth-best lap of 1:22.309. He and teammate Kazuki Nakajima, who ran to an 11th-quick 1:22.977, worked on setup for the only thing that matters, the season opening race in Australia, March 16.
Showing promise, Giancarlo Fisichella placed Force India's VJM01 sixth on time sheets with a 1:22.516.
"I was struggling with the front locking at first, but then we understood what the problem was and made a change so the car was back to normal, and at the end I was comfortable and confident and able to improve my lap times," Fisichella said. "I am happy with the new package. It is better with more downforce and has more stability. But we have still got something more for the first race, so it looks quite encouraging."
Fisichella was followed by Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull RB4 in 1:22.558. Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Vettel stepped in for veteran David Coulthard, who suffered a pinched neck nerve Monday so was kept out of the cockpit Tuesday. Vettel left the only Toro Rosso STR on hand to teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who covered 98 laps in mechanical grip work with a best lap of 1:23.323.
BMW Sauber drivers Robert Kubica (1:22.625) and Nick Heidfeld (1:23.284) continued mechanical and aerodynamic work on the F1.08s with the full boat: practice starts, pit stops, qualifying simulations and race simulations.
Happier news for Honda was Jenson Button's appearance on the time sheets in ninth spot with a 1:22.659 despite his RA108 as well as that of Rubens Barrichello (1:23.159) suffering distinct issues that stopped the day's activities short of full races distances. They completed pit stops and qualifying efforts.
Toyota worked on the TF108s' new aerodynamic packages, with all efforts on Australia. Jarno Trulli completed 97 laps with a quick lap of 1:23.023 and Timo Glock 80 laps with a quick lap of 1:23.551.
"Now we have all the information to decide the aero configuration for race one," said Pascal Vasselon, Toyota's senior general manager in charge of chassis. "The new aerodynamics package we brought here is a clear step forward. Things went quite well with our race preparation for Jarno. We will dedicate (Wednesday) to refinement but basically we are very pleased with his pace today. Timo was running a different program and we will have to review the setup direction with him (Wednesday) to see how we can help him to progress."
Renault drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Angelo Piquet, having gone through race procedures and pit stops already, turned to car performance of the R28s. Alonso turned a 1:23.113 in 79 laps, Piquet a 1:23.467 in 45.
"We still need to find some performance in the car, but we have the potential and we just need to discover it," Alonso said. "There is only one day of testing left, and we need to fully attack tomorrow to make the most of it."