Valencia day three - new McLaren flies 04 Feb 2005
Kimi Raikkonen became the first man to break the 69-second barrier around Valencia on Thursday and he did it at the wheel of McLarens new MP4-20 car. He was a second faster than team mate Alexander Wurz, who was next up in the older MP4-19B.
Raikkonen completed 117 trouble-free laps of the Spanish circuit, setting his best time of 1m 08.995s late in the day. Wurz added another 134 laps as McLaren wrapped up their three-day programme for the week, having topped the times each day.
Jarno Trulli was an encouraging third fastest on his first outing of the week for Toyota, taking over the new TF105 from Olivier Panis. The Italian was almost 1.5 seconds quicker than team mate Ralf Schumacher, also in the Japanese squads 2005 machine.
Renault rounded off their three days in Valencia with Fernando Alonso fourth fastest, much to the delight of a strong contingent of fans who had turned out to see the Spaniard. Both he and team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, seventh, continued development of the new R25.
The team had planned to conduct race simulation work today, but a high number of red flags, combined with a mechanical failure on Fisichella's car, meant that plans were changed. Instead, both drivers worked on an experimental comparative set-up programme, exploring the other's set-up solutions.
We made more good progress this week with the set-up of the car, and today's comparative programme allowed us to make further advances in our understanding of the R25, said Renaults chief test engineer Christian Silk. Overall, we are very pleased with the car's performance: we know that it is sound and quite competitive. We are still experiencing some problems, but that is normal at this stage of the season and we will begin testing solutions next week in Jerez.
BARs Takuma Sato was the busiest man on track, completing 144 laps of tyre work in the 007 on his way to the days fifth-fastest time. Team mate Jenson Button, taking over from Anthony Davidson, was 11th, also in a 007. His focus was primarily set-up. The team also had youngsters James Rossiter and Adam Carroll in action in last years 006 machine as part of their driver development programme.
At Williams, Nick Heidfeld carried out set-up, tyre and aero work in the new FW27, ending the day sixth fastest after just over 100 laps. Team mate Mark Webber completed a successful race simulation on his way to ninth place.
Michael Schumacher made his first appearance of the week, continuing the tyre programme started by Marc Gene, at the wheel of the F2004. The world champion was eighth quickest after 50 laps, while team mate Rubens Barrichello in the interim F2004 M was 10th following 46 laps of an electronics programme.
Conditions at Valencia were again ideal for testing, with clear skies making for track temperatures of close to 20 degrees Celsius. Testing continues on Friday.
Unofficial Thursday times from Valencia:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:08.995
2. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:09.956
3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:10.192
4. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:10.309
5. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:10.477
6. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:10.499
7. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:10.501
8. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:10.887
9. Mark Webber, Williams (Michelin), 1:11.118
10. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:11.130
11. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:11.562
12. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:11.573
13. James Rossiter, BAR (Michelin), 1:12.671
14. Adam Carroll, BAR (Michelin), 1:13.358