DE LA ROSA QUICKEST AS MICHELIN MAKES BRIGHT START Test driver Pedro de la Rosa (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) set fastest lap on the opening day of the Spanish Grand Prix meeting at the Circuit de Catalunya, in the outskirts of Barcelona.
DE LA ROSA QUICKEST AS MICHELIN MAKES BRIGHT START
Test driver Pedro de la Rosa (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) set fastest lap on the opening day of the Spanish Grand Prix meeting at the Circuit de Catalunya, in the outskirts of Barcelona. Comfortably quickest this morning, the Spaniard improved to 1m 15.062s in the closing moments of this afternoons second free practice session.
Toyota reserve Ricardo Zonta (Toyota/Michelin) was second overall as five Michelin teams took a clean sweep of the top ten positions on aggregate. Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was third, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes), Jarno Trulli (Toyota), David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing), Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) and local hero and world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault).
The B*A*R-Honda team will miss the Spanish Grand Prix and Monaco, a fortnight from now after picking up a two-race ban for an alleged rule infringement in the recent San Marino Grand Prix.
Its drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato originally finished third and fifth at Imola, but an FIA International Court of Appeal found the team guilty of using fuel as weight ballast, in contravention of F1 regulations. The team has protested its innocence, but has decided not to take the case to a civil court.
Juan Pablo Montoya (Team McLaren Mercedes) has returned to the cockpit this weekend after missing two races with a shoulder injury. The Colombian was 11th overall at the end of the two free practice sessions but he crashed heavily moments before the chequered flag was shown this afternoon.
Mark Webber (Williams-BMW/Michelin) did not appear on track at the Circuit de Catalunya today. The team discovered faulty exhaust valves on both its cars engines and has little choice but to replace them. Fresh-specification V10s will be installed on Saturday morning.
By not running today, however, Webber will not be deemed to have had an unscheduled engine change (he is due a fresh V10 for this event) and will not be docked 10 places on the grid. His team-mate Nick Heidfeld cannot escape such a penalty, however, because he was supposed to complete one more race without a change.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
Although the Circuit de Catalunya has been resurfaced and is no longer as abrasive as it used to be, its combination of tight corners and fast, high-speed sweeps is always going to place a significant load on tyres. During the build-up to the race the new surface hasnt made the task for our engineers any easier, and it has given them a different type of problem to assess.
We brought three different types of tyre to this race and it is conceivable that all will be used on Sunday, because they appear well suited to the conditions. We have accumulated plenty of useful data today and that has given us an excellent platform on which to build for the balance of the weekend.