Barcelona day three - Ferrari on top again 01 Dec 2006
Ferrari refused to relax their grip on the timesheets on Thursday as Luca Badoer set the pace in the weeks third day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya. Badoer was three tenths quicker than Heikki Kovalainen, who jumped up the order for Renault to finish ahead of BMW Saubers Robert Kubica.
Ferrari - and indeed all the teams except Toyota - wrapped up their Barcelona programmes. Badoer was joined by fellow tester Marc Gene, both men focussing on endurance running, experimentation with new components and finding the best set-up on the 248 F1.
Kovalainen spent his day working on Renaults 2007 gearbox, taking over the programme started by Nelson Piquet Jr in the first two days of the test. Piquet, in turn, switched his attentions to tyres and set-up, clocking the eighth-fastest time.
"When we arrived in Barcelona, our main aim was to understand how to run the car, in collaboration with our new partner Bridgestone - we achieved that, which is very positive, said Christian Silk, Renaults chief test engineer. The whole team put in a lot of effort this week, working late into the night to prepare the cars and analyse the data. And I think the progress we have made over the three days shows the effort was worth it."
As Kubica set the BMW Sauber pace in third, continuing work on their new gearbox, Timo Glock made his test debut with the team. The former Jordan racer, who competed in GP2 this season, spent the day acclimatising to the F1.06 and working on set-up. He finished a respectable ninth in the times.
"The characteristics of an F1 car are quite different from a GP2, so it took me some laps in the morning to adapt my driving style, said Glock. It's a fantastic feeling to drive this car. Particularly in the fast corners the speed is really impressive. I did many laps today and was able to improve constantly, so I'm really happy, and I'm looking forward to my next test in Jerez."
Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest, as he completed his first test since being announced as a McLaren race driver for 2007. It is early days still but this week has been really positive, he said. I have got some good mileage in the car and the work we have done with the Bridgestone Potenza tyres has been really encouraging.
Stealing the McLaren limelight from Hamilton, however, was the teams former world champion Mika Hakkinen, who enjoyed his one-off test, despite finishing at the bottom of the timesheets.
"It has been an exciting day for me and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to drive a Formula One car after a five year break, said the 38-year-old Finn. I spent the morning really acclimatising to the environment of the cockpit again and just getting to grips with driving a 2006 car.
"I didn't expect to be quick straight away, and Barcelona is of course a hard track on both the car and driver, and it took several laps before I was up to speed, but we were all expecting this to be the case. Although it was great fun today I also had to do some serious work for the team, as any feedback I could give them from today's experience will help them with their preparations for the 2007 season."
Rubens Barrichello was the leading Honda driver in fifth. Both he and Christian Klien, 10th, spent the day working through suspension programmes as part of the teams continuing evaluation of the Bridgestone tyres.
It is early days and there is obviously a long way to go in adapting the car to optimise the performance of the tyres, but we are pleased with the progress we have made throughout this week, reported Mark Ellis, Hondas chief engineer (vehicle performance). We have methodically collected a huge amount of data that will be analysed ahead of next week's test in Jerez where we will continue our work with the new tyres. We are pleased that Christian has adapted well to working with the team and was able to contribute positively to the programme in his first test."
Toyota had race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli back in action for their second day in Spain, the duo going seventh and 12th fastest respectively. In addition to tyre work, the Japanese team also took the opportunity to try out different car set-ups, as well as testing weight distributions. It was both drivers first test since the Brazilian Grand Prix and Schumacher seemed pleased with the new-specification Bridgestones.
These new tyres have less grip as they are of a different construction, he said. But they are good to drive on and they make the car a bit easier to handle. They are a little bit slower but a bit more sliding is possible so that makes it more fun and they are also a little bit easier on the limit. It's too early to say for sure but they seem all right."
Red Bull completed their programme with David Coulthard 11th quickest and German test driver Michael Ammermuller, taking over from Mark Webber, 16th. "We've had a productive three days, collecting a lot of data, beginning to get an understanding of the Bridgestones and they are certainly very different to what we had been running," said chief test engineer, Ian Morgan.
"David's programme ran very smoothly throughout and today, as Mark had other commitments, Michael Ammermuller took his place and actually managed to get through more work than we had expected. Next week, we move to Jerez, where tyre work will again be the main priority when we start running on Wednesday, this time with a softer compound to assess."
Anthony Davidson brought his first Super Aguri test to a close in 13th place. It has been positive and I have really enjoyed working with my new team, he said. We covered a lot of laps in the three days and every day we gained more confidence in each other and the way we work. Reliability was good and our understanding of the Bridgestone Potenza tyres was the key factor of this test and we made lots of progress.
Fourteenth in the times was Williams test driver Narain Karthikeyan. Narain started the programme with some bodywork aero comparisons and changes to the front wing, explained Mike Condliffe, Williams test team manager. After lunch, we were after Narain's comments on some front geometry changes which we will feed into the FW29 design programme. We have completed useful mileage on several new mechanical components as part of their acceptance programme. Next week we will continue the development work in Jerez.
Completing the Thursday line-up were the Toro Rossos of Scott Speed (15th) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (17th), both continuing tyre evaluation work. "Bridgestone seems to be making a big effort despite the lack of competition, said Laurent Mekies, the teams chief engineer. "We carried out some fairly basic tests as it was our first run on these tyres and let's say there were no bad surprises.
"It was vital to try and separate the results of car performance and tyre performance, in order to understand what data will still be relevant when we run with next year's car. The drivers also had to adapt their driving styles to suit the new rubber."
Toyota will complete their Barcelona programme on Friday. The majority of teams will then reconvene next Wednesday at the Spanish circuit of Jerez for a further three-day test.
Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:16.320
2. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:16.609
3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:16.729
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:17.076
5. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:17.190
6. Marc Gene, Ferrari, 1:17.342
7. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:17.359
8. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:17.428
9. Timo Glock, BMW Sauber, 1:17.632
10. Christian Klien, Honda, 1:17.774
11. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:17.876
12. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:18.019
13. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:18.045
14. Narain Karthikeyan, Williams, 1:18.087
15. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:18.503
16. Michael Ammermuller, Red Bull, 1:18.741
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:18.875
18. Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, 1:19.336