Jerez day two - De la Rosa still top 20 Jul 2006
McLarens Pedro de la Rosa topped the timesheet for the second day running during testing in Jerez. The Spaniard lapped the circuit in 1m 17.547s - more than half a second quicker than the Renault of Heikki Kovalainen.
Despite traffic - 15 cars from nine teams ventured out onto the circuit - and blustery conditions, De la Rosas time was just over a second faster than the time he set during Tuesdays session.
In the second McLaren, Gary Paffett was sixth fastest with a time of 1m 18.518s. Both drivers focused predominantly on tyre set-up for the next three races and evaluated a variety of Michelin compounds.
Renaults Heikki Kovalainen was second quickest - lapping the Spanish circuit in 1m 18.029s. The Finn had a busy day working through an intensive tyre programme and completed a mammoth 128 laps. Meanwhile the Finns team mate Jose Maria Lopez ran most of the day with a low-downforce configuration in preparation for the upcoming race at Monza, and set the 11th fastest time during the session.
"Heikki ran through a pretty intensive tyre programme and found some good solutions to take forward, both for Hockenheim and for general development, explained Renaults chief test engineer Christian Silk. Jose didn't have an easy task today, running in low downforce configuration to put miles on the car. With a less than optimum set-up for this circuit, he kept the car on track and completed a useful R&D programme. There were no major issues on either car, and we completed over 200 laps in total - an encouraging mileage for the opening day of a test."
After a miserable weekend in Magny-Cours, Honda will be encouraged by a positive first day of testing in Jerez with Anthony Davidson and race driver Jenson Button third and fourth-fastest respectively. Davidson concentrated on engine and chassis work in the morning, followed by tyre evaluation for Hockenheim in the afternoon, whilst Button started his day with set-up runs followed by aero and suspension work in the afternoon. Rubens Barrichello will join the test tomorrow to take over from Davidson.
Robert Kubica was fifth quickest for BMW Sauber with a time of 1m 18.493s - set just two laps before his last run. Kubicas team mate Nick Heidfeld focused on set-up, aero and tyre work for the German Grand Prix and was 13th on the time sheets.
The last Michelin runner in the top ten was the Red Bull of Robert Doornbos. The test driver was seventh quickest with a lap of 1m 18.982s whilst in the other Red Bull, David Coulthard, ended the session 12th.
Toyotas Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis were eighth and tenth fastest respectively, sandwiching the Williams of Alexander Wurz. The team were the quickest Bridgestone runners and took advantage of Jerez's hot conditions to work on tyres for the next three Grands Prix - ahead of the summer test ban.
"This week we have to push hard especially having to gain information for three races, explained Gerd Pfeiffer, Toyotas test team manager. The hot temperatures we are experiencing here are a big advantage in regards to Hockenheim and Hungary, which are two races known for being some of the hottest races in the calendar.
Wednesday's session was Williams second day at the circuit and Wurz completed 95 laps focusing on car set-up in the morning and suspension, brake work and tyre compound checks in the afternoon.
Completing the line-up at Jerez were Neel Jani from Toro Rosso in 14th place and Midlands Georgio Mondini in 15th. Despite clocking the slowest time of the day, the Midland driver remained upbeat about the session.
"I think the team took another good step forward today. Unlike some teams, we weren't concentrating so much on the time sheets but instead focused on setting up all of our recent upgrades and making them work together as a system, he commented. Based on today's results, everything seems to be working very well and I expect our pace to improve quite a bit before we are done here."
Elsewhere, Ferrari kicked off their test session at Paul Ricard in Southern France. Felipe Massa and Marc Gene took charge of driving duties and concentrated on tyre set-up and testing new mechanical and electrical developments on the 248 F1. The team used the 2A-b-SC version of the track, which is just over 3.5 kilometres long. Massa completed 92 laps of the circuit with a best time of 59.627s whilst Gene ran 180 laps with a best of 1m 00.080s.
Testing will continue at both Jerez and Paul Ricard on Thursday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.547
2. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.029
3. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:18.198
4. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:18.280
5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.493
6. Gary Paffett, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.518
7. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.982
8. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:18.986
9. Alexander Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:19.097
10. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.143
11. Jose Maria Lopez, Renault (Michelin), 1:19.394
12. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:19.459
13. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:19.555
14. Neel Jani, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:20.379
15. Giorgio Mondini, Midland (Bridgestone), 1:20.900