Jerez day two - De la Rosa fastest again 06 Jul 2006
Another strong performance from McLaren saw Pedro de la Rosa topping the timesheets for the second day running during testing in Jerez. The McLaren test driver lapped the Spanish circuit in 1m 17.782 - just over two tenths quicker than the Renault of Heikki Kovalainen.
The Spaniards MP4-21 was fitted with an upgraded version of the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine and his main focus for the day was the engine development programme. In the second McLaren, Gary Paffett continued to assess the selection of Michelin tyres for the forthcoming French Grand Prix and the following race in Hockenheim. Paffett finished the day in eighth place.
Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen was second fastest with a best lap of 1m 18:037, whilst Fernando Alonso clocked a time of 1m 18.119 to put him third fastest. The current world champion was driving the new evolution of the Renault engine for the first time.
Anthony Davidson set the fourth quickest time of the session for Honda with a fastest lap of 1m 18.223. The test driver was working predominantly on tyre and chassis set-up. Davidson was joined by Honda race driver Rubens Barrichello who, after a frustrating session, only managed tenth fastest. The Brazilian spun his RA106 in the early afternoon whilst working on chassis set-up and caused a second red flag later on after engine failure.
Alexander Wurz continued to test for Williams. The Austrian clocked a fastest lap of 1m 18.537, over a second faster than his best time during Tuesdays session.
BMW Sauber test driver, Robert Kubica attracted a great deal of attention driving a car which sported interesting new aerodynamic parts. Kubica managed an impressive time of 1m 18.591 which put him sixth on the timesheets before mechanical problems stopped his session early.
To test alongside Kubica, BMW Sauber called on the services of Sebastian Vettel. It was the second time the young German had driven a Formula One car, after driving a Williams last year. Vettel, who is currently competing in the Formula 3 Euroseries, seemed happy with his performance. He completed 83 laps during the session and clocked a fastest time of 1m 19.595.
The whole day went really well. I was able to complete many laps without any problems, said the German teenager. It's clear that I cannot exploit the whole potential of the car yet, but that seems to be a matter of time. I'm happy with the day."
Race driver Jacques Villeneuve will take over from Vettel on Thursday alongside Robert Kubica. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld, who had been scheduled to test in Jerez on Thursday, will sit out the session due to a muscle twinge caused by his dramatic accident in last week's United States Grand Prix.
For Toyota, third driver Ricardo Zonta clocked a time of 1m 18.738 to go seventh fastest, whilst test driver Olivier Panis finished the session ninth. It was the first time the Honda TF106B had been tested at Jerez and during the session the two drivers concentrated on testing new parts and gathering general tyre construction data.
Both drivers were initially hampered by grip problems but the second half of the session proved more productive. The afternoon went much better and the grip improved, commented Zonta. I am feeling more comfortable in the car and the development is continuously improving.
Race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli will join the test on Thursday to concentrate on set-up for the next race at Magny-Cours.
Red Bull's third driver Robert Doornbos only managed 38 laps after several teething problems hampered his session. He recorded a best overall time of 1m 19:540, less than a tenth of a second faster than Vettel.
There was no let up in the hot weather conditions in Jerez, with track temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius. Testing continues on Thursday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.782
2. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.037
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.119
4. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:18.223
5. Alex Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:18.537
6. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.591
7. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:18.738
8. Gary Paffett, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.888
9. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.057
10. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:19.387
12. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull Racing (Michelin), 1:19.540
13. Sebastian Vettel, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:19.595