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Teams prepare to resume testing 24 Nov 2006

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R26. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, Day Two, 14 September 2006. World ©  Hartley/Sutton. David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 21 October 2006 Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 20 October 2006 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mclaren F1 Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain. 11th October 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton. Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams FW28. F1 Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain. 10th October 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton.

Just five weeks since the season finale in Brazil and the teams are already returning to the test track to prepare for 2007. With the winter programme set to get underway at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday, at least eight teams are expected to make an appearance at the Spanish track over the course of next week.

With Bridgestone becoming Formula One racing’s sole tyre supplier for 2007, the Barcelona test will be one of the first opportunities that some teams have had to run on the Japanese manufacturer’s rubber. Teams including Renault, McLaren, Honda, BMW Sauber and Red Bull, which previously relied on tyres from Michelin, are expected to use these test runs to start acclimatizing to the switch.

Renault certainly have a busy schedule planned, with new race driver Heikki Kovalainen and test driver Nelson Piquet Jr both expected in the driving seat from November 28. During their three-day test, the French team hopes to learn more about the characteristics of the Bridgestone tyres, while measuring the reliability of certain components destined for the 2007 car.

“Initially, the engineers will be working with the drivers to get the basic balance of the car comfortable,” explained Pat Symonds, Renault’s Executive Director of Engineering. “That will involve relatively short runs. Subsequently, we will look to being working on how the tyres react over the length of a race stint. It will be important to do plenty of mileage.”

Lewis Hamilton is set to be in attendance as McLaren kick off their three-day programme from Tuesday. Hamilton, who was only confirmed as the team’s new race driver on Friday, will be hoping to notch up as many runs as he can as he works towards his race debut next year.

Meanwhile, after a busy weekend at the Valencia circuit for the BMW World Finals, BMW Sauber will also start testing on Tuesday in Barcelona. Race drivers Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld are expected to take charge for the first two days, before former Jordan driver Timo Glock replaces Heidfeld in the cockpit for the final day.

Red Bull are also scheduled to begin work on Tuesday. The team will use last year’s RB2s during their three-day session and will focus their efforts on evaluating their new Bridgestone tyres.

“It means we have a few tests to get used to them, so every lap will count, from long runs to measure tyre degradation to getting a feel for how the tyre changes over a normal race stint,” explained Tony Burrows, Red Bull’s test team manager. “We’re just going to pound round, do as many miles as possible to give our engineers as much tyre data as possible. It’s a whole new ballgame.”

Other anticipated Tuesday runners include Ferrari and Williams, while Honda and Toyota are likely to attend from Wednesday. Check back throughout the week for daily updates on the teams’ progress. Note - all schedules are provisional and subject to change.