Valencia day four - record pace from Honda 03 Mar 2006
Anthony Davidson broke the unofficial lap record at Valencia on Thursday, illustrating just how big a threat Honda could pose to their rivals this season. Davidsons lap of 1m 08.544s was almost a second quicker than the previous best of the winter, set by McLarens Kimi Raikkonen on Wednesday.
In Hondas final day of pre-season running Davidson completed 122 laps of the Spanish circuit, evaluating tyre options for the forthcoming flyaway races, as well as carrying out aero and general set-up work with the RA106.
The car feels good and it has been generally fast and well balanced all week, he said. It was great to finish off the long winter testing season by breaking the unofficial lap record! We're all looking forward to Bahrain now, I think we'll be strong there and can't wait to get back to driving on Fridays again."
With just three teams in action, second in the timesheets went to David Coulthard and Red Bull, also conducting their last pre-Bahrain test. The Scot ran through an aero programme and general set-up work, before switching to tyre testing combined with longer runs.
"Unfortunately, on the first of these runs, the car suffered an engine problem and David actually spun on his own oil," explained chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. "We therefore lost some time in the afternoon, fitting a new engine, but after that we had a productive time. The car's actual pace seems pretty good, as David put in some quick laps late in the day, even though by then it was very windy."
Toyota wrapped up their winter programme with Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli applying the finishing touches to preparation of the Japanese squads TF106 machine.
"During the whole winter as well as today, we have tried to test the reliability of the car, the aerodynamics, various set-ups and tyre compounds for the first races, explained test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer. Today we have done a lot of long runs, focusing on race preparations, such as qualifying laps and tyre behaviour.
The drivers have been motivated throughout the whole programme and have proved very helpful in the development of the new cars. I think we can be happy with the progress and the stage that we have reached with the test programme. With every kilometre driven, we gained useful information and have a good understanding of the cars and their performance."
With testing now complete, aside from possible shakedowns and any private tests for Ferrari, the teams will now switch their attentions to shipping themselves and their equipment to Bahrain for the season-opening Grand Prix.
Unofficial Thursday times from Valencia:
1. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:08.544
2. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:10.401
3. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:12.067
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:12.346