Valencia - a good day for Renault 17 Feb 2006
In warm temperatures in Valencia, Heikki Kovalainen pushed Renault to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1m 10.638s, narrowly eclipsing McLaren star Juan Pablo Montoya who produced 1m 10.665s.
Renaults chief test engineer Christian Silk described it as "one of our best days of the winter," after their cars covered more than 1000 kms with only minor problems on both cars. Kovalainen completed his programme of tyre and brake testing without any problems, and his runs provided "some very interesting directions with the Michelin tyres," according to Silk. Fisichellas planned race run was spoiled by a minor hydraulic problem during his third stint, but his R26 was then troublefree again in the afternoon as he worked on set-up and tyre development. The Italian was third fastest.
"Today was a very good one for me," Kovalainen said. "The car was well balanced from the start, in spite of the wind. When that died down in the afternoon, we managed to make more progress and we found some good solutions with the tyres."
This was also a good day for McLaren, with their two drivers completing more than 480 kms of running. Their programme centred on specific set-up work and component proving for the first three races, and both drivers spent the day completing short runs. Raikkonen was fourth fastest, with 1m 11.174s. He will continue running today, joined by Pedro de la Rosa.
David Coulthard was Red Bulls sole runner, lapping the latest specification RB2 in an encouraging 1m 11.220s for fifth fastest time. The Scot worked on set-up, control systems and also did some tyre evaluation. "Actually, it was difficult to evaluate anything much in the morning, as there were very strong winds blowing across the circuit," said technical director, Mark Smith. But the car ran reliably and Coulthard will complete the test today.
Nico Rosberg and Alexander Wurz completed Williams planned running yesterday, the first on which they were not fastest. Their planned programme was simply to put further mileage on the Cosworth engine and the gearbox, while also completing some tyre testing, brake and general set-up work.
"Nico successfully track tested the CA2006 Series 2 engine," said Simon Corbyn, head of F1 race engineering. "The results were very encouraging, both in terms of on-track performance and engine mileage achieved. There are now only two tests left prior to the opening round in Bahrain and the race engines are already in build back in Northampton. It is therefore vital to make the best use of the remaining track time to approve the latest components prior to going racing. Both cars will run Series 2 engines at the Barcelona next week.
Christijan Albers continued his work at Midland, running the M16 to a best lap of 1m 12.742s during 50 laps. The team said they made progress in the key areas of reliability and performance. Tiago Monteiro will take over today.
Tester Adrian Sutil had a frustrating day in the Jordan EJ15B as a raft of technical problems cut short his running. He will continue today until Albers switched to this car for more tyre testing.
"I didn't get to do a lot of running on my first day, but I did get a few laps in." Sutil said. I know the circuit from Formula Three, but today's experience was completely different. The Formula One car was very interesting compared to the cars I have driven previously; it was great. The car itself felt very good, very fast. There's a lot of grip in the corners and you can brake really late. We had a few problems, but everyone stayed very calm and worked through them. That's the sign of a good team."
Unofficial testing times
1. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault R26 (Michelin) 1:10.638s,
2. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren MP4-21 (Michelin) 1:10.665s,
3. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault R26 (Michelin) 1:10.921s,
4. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren MP4-21 (Michelin) 1:11.174s,
5. David Coulthard, Red Bull RB2 (Michelin) 1:11.220s,
6. Nico Rosberg, Williams FW28 (Bridgestone) 1:11.222s,
7. Alex Wurz, Williams FW28 (Bridgestone) 1:12.225s,
8. Christijan Albers, Midland M16 (Bridgestone) 1:12.742s,
9. Adrian Sutil, Jordan EJ15B (Bridgestone) 1:17.918s,