Alike only different. As Formula One teams turned to testing at a circuit that will feature on the 2008 race calendar -- Spanish Grand Prix, April 27 -- they faced temperatures they hope will not. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, ...
Alike only different. As Formula One teams turned to testing at a circuit that will feature on the 2008 race calendar -- Spanish Grand Prix, April 27 -- they faced temperatures they hope will not.
Track temperatures were as low as 4 degrees C (40 degrees F) and rose only to 15C (60F) -- and, unusually, concurred with air tempearatures. This delayed some teams getting on with their programs Friday at the 4.655-kilometer (2.75-mile) Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain.
BMW Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica didn't venture out in the F1.08s until the 11 o'clock hour owing to the cold temperatures. They could not complete their planned laps as a result.
As many as nine red flags offered further delay to the 15 drivers present as teams worked in chill and overcast.
Conditions notwithstanding, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton rolled to a 1 minute, 22.263 second lap, a time that bettered Ferrari driver and victor Felipe Massa's fast lap from last year's race, 1:22.680. Hamilton's erstwhile McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso turned what he called easy laps in Renault R28-01, hitting a quick lap of 1:22.889.
"It was a really easy program today, because on the first day the track is always dirty and not in very good condition," Alonso said. "You need to run at least one day to get the track into a condition where you can test important things. Today we put some new parts on the car, which we had introduced in Valencia, and we tried to evaluate them. Everything was positive and went according to plan, but tomorrow is when we will start the real program."
Kubica, in BMW Sauber F108.02, was the only other driver under 1:23; he turned a 1:22.983.
His place among the 1:23s didn't bother Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella, who turned fourth-best among unofficial times with a 1:23.015 in nearly 100 laps. His quick lap was 0.8 secs quicker than the then Spyker team's fastest lap in qualifying for the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix.
"It was a good day today and I think we made a lot of progress," Fisichella said. "We did some runs to work on set-up and looked at some parts to improve reliability and had no big problems over the day. I felt more comfortable in the car, too. We are definitely going in the right direction, and the times were pretty good. I'm very happy as we're showing the potential we have now."
Heidfeld followed Fisichella in 1:23.270 and was ahead of McLaren tester Gary Paffett, who drove one of the MP4-23s to a 1:23.349 after adjusting to rules-mandated aid-free driving with a couple spins.
Teams including Renault, Honda, Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso appeared with two new cars on track for the first time. Red Bull's David Coulthard did a shakedown drive on a second RB4. Renault rookie race driver Nelson Angelo Piquet got his first laps in R28-02.
German Sebastian Vettel led Red Bull family times. His 1:23.387 in the STR2-02 tucked behind Piquet's 1:23.367 and led Nico Rosberg in the Williams FW30. Rosberg turned a 1:23.453 ahead of Red Bull RB4 drivers Coulthard (1:23.491) and Mark Webber (1;23.547), and Vettel's Scuderia Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Bourdais (1:23.836), who drove STR2-01.
Williams' Kazuki Nakajima rolled to a 1:23.955.
Hondas continued to lag in time. Rubens Barrichello managed a best of 1:24.125 in the RA108. Test driver Alex Wurz, also in an RA108, logged a 1:26.975.