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Jerez day two - Kovalainen fastest in Spain 14 Dec 2006

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault R26 Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain. 13 December 2006. World © Bumstead/Sutton. Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) tests for Scuderia Toro Rosso. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 13 December 2006.World © Patching/Sutton. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 248 F1 Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 13 December 2006. World © Patching/Sutton. Michael Ammermuller (GER) Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel (GER) BMW Sauber Third Driver. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain. 13 December 2006. World ©  Bumstead/Sutton. James Rossiter (GBR) Honda F1 test driver Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain. 13 December 2006. World ©  Bumstead/Sutton.

Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen set the standard during testing in Jerez on Wednesday, clocking a fastest lap of 1m 19.466s - just under five-tenths quicker than the second-placed Ferrari of Luca Badoer.

Kovalainen, who will race for Renault next season, completed an impressive 113 laps of the Spanish circuit. The Finn continued Renault’s tyre programme alongside team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, who finished fifth in the times. Both cars ran with the team’s 2007 gearbox and enjoyed a trouble-free day.

Ferrari also spent the day testing their new gearbox, as well as other new mechanical components for the 248 F1. Badoer was joined by race driver Felipe Massa, who finished seventh in the times after completing 75 laps.

Next up in the times were the two Hondas of Christian Klien and James Rossiter. Both test drivers completed several long runs on the team’s new Bridgestone tyres in the morning. Later on Klien swapped to electronics and chassis work, whilst Rossiter ran through an aero evaluation. Both will continue testing on Thursday.

Pedro de la Rosa was McLaren’s lead driver in sixth, while fellow tester Gary Paffett finished 11th in the team’s second car. Both were at the wheel of MP4-21s, working through set-up and wheel specification evaluation. Paffett will be replaced on Thursday by newly-signed race driver Lewis Hamilton.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld finished in eighth, with the team’s third driver Sebastian Vettel in 12th. While Heidfeld concentrated on set-up work and testing new components, Vettel carried out an aerodynamic test in the afternoon alongside a comprehensive systems check programme.

Just over three-hundredths down on Heidfeld was Jarno Trulli in the leading Toyota. Trulli, who completed almost 100 laps. Franck Montagny, 10th, in the second Toyota endured a largely frustrating day after a small incident early on. The Frenchman was forced to wait for the mechanics to complete some time-consuming repairs before he could continue his programme.

"Today I was expecting a good day and it was not,” explained Montagny. “We stopped after three laps with a minor issue on the car, something we never had before and took quite a long time to fix. I didn't go out again until the afternoon so we didn't have a lot of time to do the set-up work but we did the comparison work we wanted to do and that is a good thing."

Montagny will be replaced in the second Toyota on Thursday by fellow tester Olivier Panis. The session will be the final time Panis will appear for the team. The Frenchman is set to retire from Formula One driving at the end of the year, after a career lasting 12 years.

Kazuki Nakajima finished in 13th in the Williams. Nakajima, who made his debut during a rainy day of testing at the Spanish circuit last week, bettered his previous best time by over a tenth of a second. The main aim of the session was for the young Japanese driver to complete enough laps to qualify for his Super Licence.

Nakajima’s compatriot Takuma Sato finished in 14th for Super Aguri. Sato’s testing programme concentrated on an initial evaluation of the new Bridgestone rubber combined with a series of set-up changes. Improving temperatures in the afternoon also allowed him to complete some longer runs.

Michael Ammermuller was the only driver in action for Red Bull and finished in 15th. The squad’s sister team, Toro Rosso, meanwhile, fielded two drivers. 2006 racer Liuzzi, 16th, was joined by three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, who completed the line-up in 17th, the Frenchman enjoying his test debut with the team.

Testing continues in Jerez on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez:
1. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:19.466
2. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:19.907
3. Christian Klien, Honda, 1:19.999
4. James Rossiter, Honda, 1:20.017
5. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 1:20.108
6. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:20.130
7. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.143
8. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:20.209
9. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:20.244
10. Franck Montagny, Toyota, 1:20.493
11. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:20.540
12. Sebastian Vettel, BMW Sauber, 1:20.575
13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.859
14. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, 1:20.977
15. Michael Ammermuller, Red Bull, 1:21.367
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:21.843
17. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:22.513