Valencia day four - Alonso on flying form 06 Feb 2006
Fernando Alonso set a blistering pace as Formula One testing concluded at Valencia on Friday. The world champion clocked the fastest time of the week as he topped the times for the third day in succession, with Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen right behind.
Mileage, and plenty of it, was the aim of Renaults day, and both drivers completed full race simulations, including refuelling and tyre stops. Alonso totalled 144 laps and Kovalainen 166, with neither R26 machine suffering any serious problem.
"The conditions were good today, because there were fewer cars running, so we didn't have as many red flags as yesterday, reported Alonso. This afternoon, I worked on the tyres and I think we are making steady progress towards some good solutions. Every test between now and the first race will be important, but we have been productive during each one so far, and we managed to do that again this week."
"I am getting to like the R26 more and more as I drive it, added Kovalainen. We had a very efficient morning, with good levels of performance and another race distance without any problems. There is still a lot to do ahead of the first race in Bahrain, but we have a solid base. Personally, I am pleased that I managed to get used to the new car quite quickly, and I am pleased that I improved with each day this week."
Williams had an encouraging end to their week in Spain, with Nico Rosberg finishing third fastest in the new FW28. He was joined by Japanese Formula One champion Jaoa Paulo de Oliveira, who made his Formula One debut in the teams interim FW27C machine.
Today was the end of the first test for the FW28, explained technical director Sam Michael. It was a really good start for the new car, with no major problems that you might expect on a first run. We also completed a few aerodynamic tests and confirmed that everything on the new car is working as predicted by the wind tunnel. Nico finished mid afternoon today, as planned, after starting some aero and mechanical set-up work. We also found a couple of good directions from which we can get the best out of the Bridgestone tyres which we will now work on in time for the next test at Valencia.
Joao Paulo de Oliveira drove the FW27C for us today to put mileage on some of the engine and gearbox components. It was his first time in a Formula One car and he did everything well. The team now head to Jerez for a four day test next week with two FW28s, Webber, Rosberg and Wurz will all be on duty.
At McLaren, Pedro de la Rosa was fourth fastest as he continued Michelin tyre work in the interim V10 MP2-20. Juan Pablo Montoya ended up ninth after a troubled day in the new MP4-21. The Colombian suffered an engine failure and then hydraulic problems, but still managed just over 70 laps.
"The distances we are covering is allowing us to complete some key programmes with the car and I am looking forward to continuing this process next week in Jerez, said Montoya. The car is getting better the more we run it and develop it, and the team are doing a really good job. We have had a couple of technical issues this week, but this is why we test and everything like this helps us learn more about the car."
Nick Heidfeld put BMW Sauber fifth, the German carrying out a programme of tyre work, fuel system and aero tests. Third driver Robert Kubica, again in the teams interim C24B, moved up the times to finish eighth.
Between the two BMW Saubers were the Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta, both drivers reporting productive days in the TF106.
"Today we did many runs working on the car with different set-ups, reported Schumacher. We ran really well without any major problems and were therefore rather successful, so it was a good day. We are heading in the right direction with the tyre testing and when the new aerodynamic package arrives in the coming tests, we will see how competitive we are going to be."
Testing stays in Spain this week, but shifts to the Jerez circuit.
Unofficial Friday times from Valencia:
1. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:10.530
2. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:10.920
3. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:11.404
4. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:11.667
5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:11.799
6. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:11.843
7. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:11.938
8. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:12.112
9. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:12.802
10. Jaoa Paulo de Oliveira, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:13.920