Testing concluded at Silverstone circuit today under hot and sunny conditions that allowed the teams to do their first prolonged serious running of the week. Mechanical problems, testing restrictions and poor weather had hampered running during...
Testing concluded at Silverstone circuit today under hot and sunny conditions that allowed the teams to do their first prolonged serious running of the week. Mechanical problems, testing restrictions and poor weather had hampered running during the first two days, but four teams fielding a total of six cars took to the track to make the most of the fine conditions and to complete their preparations for the forthcoming Grands Prix.
Ralf Schumacher was the busiest driver of the day as he astonishingly completed more than twice a Grand Prix distance. The Williams team was working on an extensive tyre and engine reliability testing programme as well as carrying out set up work for the British Grand Prix that will be held at Silverstone in the near future. The team was conducting split tests with test-driver Marc Gene running simultaneously at Monza so consequently only one chassis was present at Silverstone. No problems were encountered and Schumacher posted the fastest time of the day at 1 minute 19.790 seconds, just under a second behind the pole position time for last year's race.
"We finalised a busy programme at Silverstone today with extensive tyre testing and set-up work for Montreal, as well as engine endurance running for BMW", said chief engineer Sam Michael. "In all we managed to complete 640km of useful work in a single day and, over the course of this test and our simultaneous programme at Monza, have made some useful progress for Montreal and beyond."
Renault used up another of their allocated ten days of two car testing by fielding both race drivers Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso. The team had canceled their scheduled test yesterday due to torrential rain and so were keen to obtain some useful data today. The main focus of the test was on tyre development, a fact emphasised by presence of the fleet of four Michelin vehicles behind the Renault garage. The day did not run trouble-free though as Alonso suffered a mechanical breakdown during the morning session and coasted to a halt at the exit of Copse. He also suffered an off-track excursion during the afternoon through the gravel at Brooklands but was able to continue to the pitlane.
"Both drivers had a very busy test programme today, which concentrated mainly on tyre development work with Michelin," said technical director Mike Gascoyne. "Fernando evaluated the tyres for the French and British Grands prix, then focused on the chassis set-up of the R23 in the afternoon. Jarno worked on aerodynamics and general car set-up, together with a tyre test in preparation for the forthcoming race in Canada."
Jordan also used another day of their testing allocation by fielding their race squad of Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman. Their running was hampered though by a number of technical problems. Ralph Firman coasted to a halt during the morning on the far side of the circuit and then suffered another terminal mechanical problem midway through the afternoon session. Fisichella also suffered a problem with his engine during the afternoon that required significant work from the mechanics.
"To date we have concentrated on small things, trimming devices specifically for individual races", reflected the technical directory Gary Anderson. "We are looking at an aerodynamic development update for later in the season. We are pushing to make it happen as soon as we possibly can."
Toyota made their first appearance at Silverstone this year and test driver Ricardo Zonta was behind the wheel. The team was working on tyre testing as well as set-up work for the British Grand Prix. The mechanical gremlins also affected Zonta as his car was sidelined for the final hour of the session after developing a fault. Toyota, like Williams, were running a split test with Olivier Panis at Monza working on engine development. Zonta was the slowest of all the drivers at Silverstone but completed nearly a full Grand Prix distance.
"We did a lot of work today in preparation for the British Grand Prix in a couple of weeks," said Zonta, "We also worked on improving the balance of the car to suit my driving. We did some tyre tests and the car has a very good grip level on new tyres."
Williams will stay on at Silverstone to conduct some straight line tests on Friday but the rest of the teams will pack up and fly out to Canada for the Grand Prix that will be held in Montreal on June 13th to 15th.