With only two weeks to go before the F1 season kicks off in Melbourne on March 3rd, teams have been putting in all the testing they can manage in an effort to iron out any last minute problems. Michael Schumacher. Photo by Ferrari Media...
With only two weeks to go before the F1 season kicks off in Melbourne on March 3rd, teams have been putting in all the testing they can manage in an effort to iron out any last minute problems.
Last week Ferrari were at Mugello with Rubens Barrichello working on the Bridgestone tyre programme and at Fiarano with Michael Schumacher doing development work on the F2002. Ferrari have now decided to put the F2001 on the grid in Albert Park as although the F2002 has proven very fast, the team are not entirely sure of reliability.
McLaren have seen new signing Kimi Raikkonen break the lap records at Valencia and Barcelona during winter testing. Raikkonen and test driver Alex Wurz have been at Valencia recently, working on tyre and engine development, and David Coulthard had a high speed crash at Barcelona a week ago -- Michelin are to investigate as it was a deflated tyre that caused the accident.
Williams are currently at Estoril, Portugal, for a three day test where Ralf Schumacher is in the FW24 while tester Antonio Pizzonia has been in the older FW23. The new BMW engine has been reportedly very good but there has been less enthusiasm for the FW24 chassis and improvements are still being sought.
Sauber, who have emerged as one of the leading lights in winter testing, are preparing for their final pre-season test starting today in Mugello. Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld will be working on tyres and aerodynamic development, the team hoping to retain their fourth place in the Constructors' standings this season.
BAR recently finished a comprehensive test programme in Valencia, Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis on track with the BAR004 and testers Anthony Davidson and Ryo Fukuda also present. Villeneuve and Panis are feeling positive about the new car and head for the Paul Ricard circuit in France next week to continue development for Melbourne.
Renault spent last week at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, concluding a successful three day test with Jenson Button making progress with the set-up of the R202. They now head to Silverstone to start testing on 18th February.
Jordan will finally launch the EJ12 in Brussels on February 22nd and Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato were testing in Barcelona last week. Sato has been concentrating on running race simulations in preparation for his F1 debut while Fisichella worked on general set-up. The team will commence their final test at Silverstone next week.
Arrows had aerodynamic problems recently when the rear wing parted company with Heinz Harald Frentzen's car and gave him a high speed crash, but the team think they have resolved the problem. Work continued at Barcelona last week while Enrique Bernoldi was at Vairano in Italy concentrating on straight line speed. Arrows also now make tracks for Silverstone to shake down the A23s on a three day test.
Jaguar have been beset with problems during winter testing, aerodynamic troubles with the R3 leading to a hasty re-think -- not only with the car but with team members, as technical director Steve Nichols recently departed. Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa concluded testing at Valencia after successfully working on the R3's new components and the team are scheduled join next week's Silverstone session.
Minardi have been in Barcelona, new signing Mark Webber putting in a full race distance and Alex Yoong battling with mechanical problems. However, the team are pleased with the progress of the PS02 and principal Paul Stoddart thinks the car has significant potential.
Toyota tested at the Paul Ricard circuit last week with Mika Salo trying out aerodynamic parts, having a generally problem free programme and Alan McNish takes over today.