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Valencia day two - Renault end on a high 01 Mar 2006

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault Test Driver. Formula 1 Testing, Jerez, Spain, 7-10 February 2006. World ©  Capilitan/Sutton

Renault have completed their final day of winter testing before departure for Bahrain. After more than a month's testing in Spain, third driver Heikki Kovalainen confirmed the champions’ strong pre-season form by topping the timesheets at Valencia on Tuesday.

Kovalainen carried out a 126-lap programme at the Spanish circuit. His running consisted of ten medium distance runs, conducting tyre testing for Michelin. The Finn’s best time, a 1m 10.436s, put him a tenth of a second ahead of Honda’s Anthony Davidson.

"This was a very good final day of testing,” said Christian Silk, Renault’s chief test engineer. “The car was running well, and we completed a major tyre development programme, which means we can go to the first races in good shape. Heikki did a great job again today, and gave us very good feedback on our work.”

At Honda, Davidson commenced the Japanese team’s three-day programme by completing an impressive 146 laps of set-up and tyre work. His strong showing in the times again suggested that Honda are likely to be one of Renault’s main threats in 2006.

Renault’s strongest 2005 rivals, McLaren, had Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa in action, the pair taking third and fourth place respectively. Raikkonen, at the wheel of the new MP4-21, ran through set-up and tyre choices with his race engineers. His programme was delayed by a hydraulic problem during the morning. De la Rosa, in the older V10 MP4-20, continued a development programme with Michelin, focussing on tyre choices for the third round of the season in Australia.

Williams were the third and final team on track at Valencia on Tuesday. It was the last day of pre-season testing for both their race drivers, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber, who finished fifth and sixth in the times.

“Mark and Nico both worked on tyre testing, while Nico also did some brake cooling work,” explained Williams’ technical director, Sam Michael. “We had a small problem with the gearbox on Mark's car which was the only hindrance as it cost us some downtime during the day. Alex (Wurz) will drive tomorrow to conclude our winter testing programme.”

Testing continues at Valencia on Wednesday, when Toyota are expected to commence their final two-day programme ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Valencia:
1. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:10.436
2. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:10.522
3. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:10.814
4. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:11.836
5. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:11.268
6. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:11.561