Renault stay ahead as 2005 season draws ever closer
It was Giancarlo Fisichellas turn to lead at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday as Renault again dominated testing in Barcelona. Team mate Fernando Alonso was third, with the French cars split in the times by the Toyota of Ricardo Zonta.
Cold morning temperatures meant that once again Renault restricted themselves to accumulating mileage early in the day, before both drivers began tyre testing for the Australian Grand Prix.
Both Alonso and Fisichella experienced delays during the day, the former owing to an electrical problem while the latter suffered mechanical problems in the afternoon. The Renault drivers also conducted familiarisation programmes for the new race weekend format.
Overall, things seem very positive: the car is well balanced, the balance remains consistent on long runs and it is looking after its tyres well, which will hopefully mean the drivers are well equipped to continue attacking until the end of the races this year, said Renaults chief test engineer Christian Silk.
Juan Pablo Montoya was the leading McLaren driver in fourth place, immediately ahead of the Red Bull duo of David Coulthard and Christian Klien. It was the Colombians final day of testing before he makes his race debut for the team in Melbourne and he completed 119 laps of preparation in the MP4-20. Pedro de la Rosa, standing in for Kim Raikkonen, was 11th fastest after 63 laps.
Set-up and tyres were Williams focus with the new FW27. Mark Webber went seventh fastest to outpace team mate Nick Heidfeld. While the Australian put in 77 laps evaluating various tyre constructions, his German colleague recorded 91 as he concentrated on compound development.
Rubens Barrichello was the fastest Ferrari driver in eighth, just ahead of Jarno Trulli in the heavily revised Toyota TF105. Barrichello worked on set-up and Bridgestone tyre development, while Michael Schumacher carried out a race simulation on his way to 12th in the times. Both men were at the wheel of the interim F2004 M car.
Jordan again trailed at the bottom of the timesheets as Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro completed the second of the teams four days of testing. "It was a good day and among other things we spent time updating Tiago's car to EJ15 specification, so he got some runs in the afternoon with the latest specification, explained sporting director Trevor Carlin.
Narain improved his time, he did a 1:19.2 and was working through some more of Bridgestone's tyre test programme. Tiago's best time was 1:19.7 so we are making progress all the time and it's going quite positively at the moment."
Testing continues in Barcelona on Thursday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Barcelona:
1. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.416
2. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:14.502
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.556
4. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.197
5. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.372
6. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.673
7. Mark Webber, Williams (Michelin), 1:15.837
8. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:15.908
9. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:16.043
10. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:16.064
11. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.134
12. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:16.187
13. Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:19.179
14. Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:19.718