Honda finish one-two, but media attention elsewhere
MotoGP champion Valentino Rossis first public Formula One test got off to a low-key start on Tuesday. With the Valencia circuit damp all day, the Italian completed just one installation lap and that ended with his Ferrari beached in the gravel.
All eyes were on Rossi, who has tested for Ferrari before, but never in a multi-team session. However, morning rain at the Spanish track meant he didnt even venture out until late in the day and then the slippery surface quickly sent his F2004 sliding harmlessly off circuit after just a few corners. He will continue testing on Wednesday.
As the media concentrated on Rossi, it was Rubens Barrichello who topped the times, leading team mate Anthony Davidson for a Honda one-two with the new RA106. Both drivers spent much of the day practicing qualifying procedures to adapt to the new 2006 format.
Michael Schumacher put Ferrari third fastest as the former champion concentrated on development of wet-weather and intermediate Bridgestone tyres. Schumacher split his time between the older F2004, in which he set his quickest lap, and the new 248 F1, in which he was less than two tenths slower.
Kimi Raikkonen was at the wheel of the latest McLaren MP4-21 and finished fourth, around 0.7s down on Schumacher. The Finn concentrated on wet launches and fuel systems checks, while team mate Gary Paffett, in the interim V10 MP4-20, carried out a Michelin wet-weather tyre programme.
Williams Mark Webber, driving the new FW28, was just over a second behind Raikkonen in fifth place, while team mate Nico Rosberg, in the interim FW27C, finished eighth.
Considering the circuit was wet throughout the day, we completed a good programme on both cars, explained Williams technical director Sam Michael. Even with its tight packaging around the exhaust and cooling systems, the FW28 has not experienced any issues with burning or cooling, which is great. Mark drove the FW28 and completed 340kms on wet tyres with some long runs to check heat rejection numbers for the new car.
Nico drove the FW27C and completed 316kms undergoing wet tyre testing for Bridgestone. It was evident from the lap times during the day that Bridgestone have an advantage in wet conditions. We should get some dry weather running tomorrow which will allow us to continue our programme."
Completing the Tuesday line-up was the Red Bull RB2 of Christian Klien. The Austrian was less than impressed with the weather, but nevertheless completed 43 trouble-free laps on his way to sixth place in the times.
"I seem destined to be a rain driver," he said. "I did a full day of wet weather testing in Jerez, my day in Barcelona was wiped out because of rain and snow and then today it was wet again! You never really learn that much about a car in the wet, but hopefully when it's my turn to drive again on Thursday, the weather will have improved."
Testing continues at Valencia on Wednesday when BMW Sauber, Renault and Toyota are expected to join the session.
Unofficial Tuesday times from Valencia:
1. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:19.384
2. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:20.001
3. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:20.361
4. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:21.189
5. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:22.388
6. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:22.590
7. Gary Paffett, McLaren (Michelin), 1:23.842
8. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:23.936
9. Valentino Rossi, Ferrari (Bridgestone), no time