Barcelona day two - nine teams on track 13 Apr 2006
One of the biggest tests of the year took place on Wednesday, with a total of 18 drivers in action at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya. Quickest of them all was Renaults Heikki Kovalainen, though the world champions had Honda right on their tails.
The two teams shared the top four places in the timesheets, with Rubens Barrichello enjoying some strong form at last to take second spot ahead of Fernando Alonso, with Hondas Anthony Davidson fourth.
Renault focussed on preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix, which takes place at the circuit in four weeks time. "We made good progress today with Heikki's car, reported chief test engineer, Christian Silk. He adapted to the car and circuit quickly morning, which was important as he had not tested here for quite a while. We confirmed the set-up improvements we had found in previous tests, and he got through a lot of tyre work. Fernando was also very productive in the laps he was able to run. Electrical problems limited his running, but we nevertheless had a positive day overall."
Toyota were right in the mix with Ricardo Zonta in fourth place, although, by his own admission, team mate Olivier Panis struggled to get to grips with the latest version of the Japanese teams TF106 car and finished the day down in 17th.
"It was a very good day in general, said Zonta. We worked on short runs, concentrating on tyre testing and aerodynamics. This is the first time that I have driven the 'new' car in Barcelona, since it was released in Vallelunga. It was very difficult with so many drivers on the track to get a clean lap, but in the end, we had a good time and were happy with the results. The car is showing potential and we still have a lot to do, but we are definitely moving ahead well."
At the end of the day I can say that I am still adapting to the car and the tyres, explained Panis. I am working on getting a good feeling for the balance to be able to give useful feedback. We can see from Ricardo that the car drives well and can be quick, but it is just a matter for me to carry on the tests and prepare the car for the next races. With each test, there is progress and I am confident everything is coming along."
Williams had a very varied programme testing new mechanical parts for reliability and performance, as well as some more aero parts. Mark Webber outpaced team mate Nico Rosberg, the pair finishing in seventh and 13th places respectively.
McLaren were down the order, with Pedro de la Rosa their leading driver in ninth place. Kimi Raikkonen was 12th, although the Finn only ran in the afternoon once his car had arrived from the factory following its post-Australia overhaul.
Ferrari just made the top ten, courtesy of Felipe Massa. Right behind him was the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, the German concentrating on brake, set-up, aero and tyre work in the F1.06.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was the sole Toro Rosso representative in 15th spot. "We are happy with today's work and Tonio did a good job of driving consistently," commented chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. "With this being the final test at this track before the Spanish Grand Prix, we worked on set-up for that race and Tonio also did a brake system comparison and he was able to run on tyres very similar to those we will use in Imola at the next race."
Super Aguri also had one car in action, with Takuma Sato at the wheel. This is our first full test programme running the SA05, so we are happy that Taku had reliable start and that we were able to cover the majority of our planned set-up changes, explained chief race engineer, Graham Taylor. The team is very satisfied with the content and results from today which have provided a number of avenues for us to investigate in pursuit of car balance. We are looking forward to a full program with Bridgestone tomorrow.
Testing continues in Barcelona until Friday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Barcelona:
1. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.952
2. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.125
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:15.250
4. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.342
5. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:15.426
6. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.672
7. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:15.691
8. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.746
9. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.779
10. Felipe Massa, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:15.850
11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:15.917
12. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.957
13. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:15.968
14. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:15.974
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:16.400
16. Marc Gene, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:16.446
17. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:16.812
18. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (Bridgestone), 1:19.328