A week of MF1 debuts and more 07 Dec 2005
The Formula One teams stay in Spain this week, moving from Barcelona to Jerez, as they continue their intensive winter test schedule in preparation for the 2006 Formula One season.
Running gets underway on Wednesday, when we should see MF1s new livery in the flesh for the first time. The Midland-owned team are expected to use 2006 race driver Christijan Albers, along with third man Nicky Pastorelli, and an appearance from Tiago Monteiro is not out of the question either, after the Portuguese driver appeared on the teams official 2006 entry last week.
Despite having their 2006 line-up seemingly finalised, MF1 will also use the Jerez session to try out some up and coming talent. Belgian driver Jeffrey van Hooydonk, 28, a veteran of German Formula Three and International Formula 3000, will get behind the wheel for a one-day stint on Thursday. Then on Saturday, another two new names will make their Formula One debuts with MF1. Belgian World Series by Renault driver Markus Winkelhock, son of Grand Prix veteran Manfred, will test alongside Russian newcomer Roman Rusinov.
One man not on the MF1 list of testing candidates is Narain Karthikeyan. The Indian driver departed the team at the end of the season, but this week will be back behind the wheel of a Formula One car when he samples the Williams FW27C. Williams have yet to confirm a third driver for 2006, so Karthikeyan will be out to impress when he lines up alongside Nico Rosberg on Wednesday at the star of the teams three-day session.
McLaren have a four-day programme planned for Jerez, with reigning DTM champion Gary Paffett again joining regular test drivers Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa. Toyota will be utilising all four of their official drivers in a five-day schedule, to include a special Bridgestone wet-weather session on Sunday, using an artificially-watered circuit.
While most teams will be taking a break between this weeks Jerez test and next weeks session at the same circuit, Ferrari have a non-stop programme planned from this Wednesday through to the following Friday. Michael Schumacher will be on track at some point, along with team mate Felipe Massa and official Ferrari testers Luca Badoer and Marc Gene.
Heikki Kovalainen will make his first Renault appearance since being confirmed as the teams official third and test driver for 2006. He will be partnered by the man he replaces next season, Franck Montagny. And with Honda, Williams, Red Bull and BMW Sauber also expected at Jerez, it is set to be a very a busy few days. Check back throughout the week for the latest progress updates.