Valencia day four - Kimi quick for McLaren 20 Feb 2006
Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the day, and of the week, in Fridays test in Valencia, which was marred at times by strong winds. Showing both encouraging speed and reliability, the Finn lapped in 1m 09. 987s while completing 81 laps.
Raikkonen and team test driver Pedro de la Rosa continued the week's programme of set-up work and component evaluation, which covered overall car development and specific work for the first three races. De la Rosa was fifth quickest with 1m 11.245s, and covered 113 laps. Fridays running took the MP4-21s track time to some 5100 km since its first shakedown on Monday, January 23.
"It has been an encouraging week, Raikkonen said. I have covered good mileage dry track conditions and worked through a number of development programmes with the team. Next week I will be in Barcelona for my final test before going to Bahrain, I have three days in the car there and I am looking forward to carrying on with the work from this week."
Giancarlo Fisichella did 83 laps for Renault and set the days second fastest lap of 1m 10.921s once a minor hydraulic leak had been cured. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen concentrated on distance running and amassed 161 laps and a quickest lap of 1m 11.071s.
Fourth quickest was David Coulthard, in a Red Bull RB2 whose initial overheating problems appear to have been cured by the latest aerodynamic package. The Scot continued work on chassis set-up, control systems and tyres. "We have made progress throughout the week," said technical director Mark Smith, "and we now have a much better understanding of the car. Next week, we move to Barcelona for the final test before the opening round of the season and so we will be concentrating on race distance simulations and race preparation, including pit-stops, complete with refuelling."
Smith described Red Bulls time in Valencia as "a very positive and encouraging week of testing."
Christijan Albers was Midlands fastest runner, lapping the old Jordan EJ15B in 1m 13.09s to pip team newboy Adrian Sutils best of 1m 13.52s in the same car.
Albers completed their tyre programme in the interim cars last run, while Sutil returned in a very impressive performance today, according to the team. His approach to familiarising himself with the car and his motivation to consistently improve his lap times with every new set of tyres reinforced the team's faith in his abilities.
Less happy was Tiago Monteiro. An incident in the morning gave the team plenty of work to do to get their new Midland M16 back on track for the afternoon, when the Portuguese driver was able to complete more set-up work and tyre development.
"This week we've made more progress with the set up and have a much better understanding of the car, said engineer James Key. We have also made a great step forward with the tyres. Weather conditions have made it difficult to look at subtle changes in test items on the car, so we have mainly concentrated on major changes, as opposed to fine-tuning. The last two days have been difficult, mainly due to the limited time we've had on track. However, we're confident we have a handle on the few issues we had to resolve yesterday. Tiago is thankfully okay after a small off this morning, and the guys did a very good job getting the car back on track again for the afternoon.
Unofficial Friday times from Valencia:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin) 1:09.987s
2. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin) 1:10.921s
3. Heikki Kovalainen Renault (Michelin) 1:11.071s
4. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin) 1m11.076s
5. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin) 1:11.245s
6. Christijan Albers, MF1 (Bridgestone) 1:13.09s
7. Adrian Sutil, MF1 (Bridgestone) 1:13.52s
8. Tiago Monterio, MF1 (Bridgestone) 1:13.815s