Adapting to new Bridgestone tyres the focus in Barcelona
Ferraris Felipe Massa took up where he left off at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Tuesday, as Formula One testing resumed in preparation for the 2007 season. Massa topped the times from McLarens Pedro de la Rosa around Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya, with Ferrari tester Luca Badoer third fastest.
Ferraris technical programme featured long runs, experimentation with new components and working on the set-up of the 248 F1. With Michael Schumachers replacement, Kimi Raikkonen, not due to arrive until January, Massa and Badoer are set to conduct the bulk of the Italian teams pre-Christmas testing and will continue work on Wednesday.
McLaren were one of six teams present conducting their first test of the year on Bridgestone rubber, ahead of the move to a single tyre supplier in 2007. New race signing Lewis Hamilton was in action. The reigning GP2 champion had to be towed back to the pits in the morning after an engine-mapping problem, but this was quickly resolved and he ended the day sixth fastest. Both he and De la Rosa evaluated tyres, as well as assessing front wing, rear wing and car floor packages.
Also new to Bridgestone tyres, BMW Sauber had Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica at the wheel of the F1.06. Heidfeld went fourth fastest, the German running a new transmission, while Kubica was seventh in the times, the Polish star working on new parts for the teams 2007 car.
Honda are also making the switch from Michelin rubber. With Jenson Button skipping this weeks test to recover from a rib injury, Rubens Barrichello and newly-promoted tester James Rossiter were on duty to help adapt the black-liveried RA106 to its new Bridgestone tyres. Christian Klien will make his official Honda testing debut on Wednesday, taking over from Rossiter.
Alexander Wurz, who will return to race action in 2007, took the sole Williams to ninth in the times, the Toyota-powered FW28 sporting the Japanese companys name on its engine cover for the first time.
Nelson Piquet Jr completed the top ten in the first of the two Renaults present. It was the Brazilians Formula One debut at the Barcelona circuit and he was tasked with running the teams 2007 gearbox for the first time in a hybrid R26 chassis. Heikki Kovalainen, meanwhile, finished 12th fastest, as he began preparations for his first Grand Prix in Australia next March.
"This was a good first day back at work for the team and the drivers, reported Renaults chief test engineer Christian Silk. We primarily focused on learning about the new Bridgestone tyres, going about the work in our usual methodical way without worrying about topping the timesheets. It is always important to learn and understand how we need to work with a new partner. We began that process today."
Splitting the Renaults in an impressive 11th place was new Super Aguri race driver, Anthony Davidson. The Honda-powered team fielded an interim car, which, as many people noticed, sported a close resemblance to the Honda works teams RA106.
Completing the time sheets were four cars from the Red Bull stable. Leading the way were the Cosworth V10-powered Toro Rossos of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed, both drivers keen to impress ahead of the arrival of the teams Ferrari-engined 2007 car. Behind them was Red Bull Racing newcomer Mark Webber, who edged veteran David Coulthard in his first appearance for the team, despite a couple of minor technical problems with his RB2.
Testing continues at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, when Toyota will join the session, with Japanese hopeful Kamui Kobayashi due to make his Formula One test debut with the team.
Unofficial Tuesday times from Barcelona:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:17.174
2. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:17.456
3. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:17.546
4. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:17.651
5. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:17.932
6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:18.241
7. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:18.519
8. James Rossiter, Honda, 1:18.526
9. Alexander Wurz, Williams, 1:18.691
10. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:18.848
11. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:19.112
12. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:19.188
13. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:19.210
14. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:19.380
15. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:19.439
16. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:19.692