Barcelona day two - Schumacher stuns 02 Jun 2006
Michael Schumacher put his Monaco controversy firmly behind him as he returned to testing on Thursday. The Ferrari star not only set the pace at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya, he also set a new unofficial lap record for the track.
Schumachers best time of 1m 13.469s put him over half a second clear of Renaults Heikki Kovalainen. However, Ferraris day was clouded by a heavy accident for Luca Badoer in the morning. The Italian was unhurt after going into the barriers in the sweeping third turn, but extensive damage to his car put it out of commission for the rest of the week.
At Renault, Kovalainen continued to focus on tyres for the forthcoming British Grand Prix while team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, fifth fastest, worked on brakes, and also signed off a number of components for the upcoming Canadian race.
"The cars ran reliably, and we collected plenty of useful data for the next races, commented Renaults chief test engineer Christian Silk. Tomorrow, we will be putting finishing touches to our preparations for the forthcoming race in Silverstone, where we expect the R26 to maintain its recent competitive form."
At Toyota, Ricardo Zonta was at the wheel of the older TF106, while Jarno Trulli used the latest TF106B. Trulli had to end his session slightly early due to gearbox problems and finished sixth fastest, three places behind his team mate.
"I think today's testing shows positive results, said Zonta. Being the third fastest in the times shows that the car can be competitive. Everything on the car was feeling good and we collected quite a bit of information, like temperature measurements and brake comparison data. Building on this week's experience, Silverstone should see better results for the team."
Williams joined the test on Thursday with Nico Rosberg and Alexander Wurz going fourth and 15th fastest respectively. Wurz was another driver to end his day in the barriers after walking away from a minor crash late in the afternoon.
Nico had a mixed test programme, including some engine control software, underbody temperature mappings, some set-up work and a short tyre test in the afternoon, explained Williams test team manager Mike Condliffe. Meanwhile, Alex was testing a family of aerodynamic parts for direct comparison all day, providing useful data for correlation with the wind tunnel. Unfortunately, just before the end of session, Alex suffered an impact. I am pleased to say that he is fine, but the car sustained some damage. Both drivers will be on duty again tomorrow for our last day.
Pedro de la Rosa was the leading McLaren in seventh place, the Mercedes-powered team continuing their programme of suspension and aero work, plus Silverstone tyre selection. Juan Pablo Montoya missed part of the morning session due to clutch problems that required a transmission change and ended the day 11th in the times.
At BMW Sauber, Jacques Villeneuve spent the morning finishing off some work started on Wednesday, as well as looking at aerodynamics and set-up. In the afternoon he did a tyre casing programme for Michelin in preparation for forthcoming races. Team mate Nick Heidfeld carried out some start practice and minimal aero and set-up work in the morning, before spending the entire afternoon on tyres. Heidfeld was 13th fastest to Villeneuves eighth.
Hondas Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello took ninth and 12th spots as they both performed aero and tyre programmes in the RA106. They will hand over to test drivers Anthony Davidson and James Rossiter on Friday.
Christian Klien headed the Red Bull drivers, the Austrian claiming 14th in the timesheets. Red Bull Racing third driver Robert Doornbos was 16th, with Toro Rosso counterpart Neel Jani completing the line-up.
Testing is due to conclude in Barcelona on Friday.
Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:13.469
2. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.169
3. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:14.696
4. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1: 14.728
5. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.863
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:15.131
7. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.240
8. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:15.526
9. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.581
10. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:15.644
11. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.652
12. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.765
13. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:15.783
14. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.870
15. Alexander Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1: 17.159
16. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:17.192
17. Neel Jani, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:17.201