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Jerez day four - Raikkonen fastest for McLaren 24 Jul 2006

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, 15 July 2006

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest runner on Friday during the week’s final day of Jerez testing. The Finn lapped the circuit in 1m 17.187s - just under two tenths of a second quicker than Red Bull’s Christian Klien who was second.

Raikkonen was joined at McLaren by test driver Gary Paffett who was ninth. Both continued to test mechanical parts for the MP4-21 and to evaluate tyre set-up and the hot weather - the track reached 52 degrees Celsius - allowed the team to test the car's performance under high temperatures.

“As with the last test at Jerez, this element of the programme has benefited from extremely high track temperatures, which we expect at these three races,” explained Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team CEO. “This has enabled us to work on performance in these conditions with our partner Michelin. The test also saw a push on certain aero and mechanical areas of the MP4-21, with work including front and rear suspension and wing packages. There has been positive feedback from all three drivers and we believe some of the modifications will be well suited to the characteristics of Hockenheim.”

Christian Klien’s second-fastest time for Red Bull was a competitive result for the team. Tyre evaluation was Klien’s priority, although he was also able to complete some power steering and suspension geometry testing.

Honda’s positive test session continued with Rubens Barrichello - fastest on Thursday - maintaining his pace to go third quickest. The Brazilian completed 72 laps and worked through an aero evaluation before completing longer runs on tyres he had selected on Thursday for the German Grand Prix. In the second Honda, test driver Anthony Davidson set the seventh-fastest time, whilst evaluating tyres for the Turkish race.

“Results from our aero, mechanical and electronic systems programmes have been very positive and our pace at this circuit has again been competitive,” commented Mark Ellis, Honda’s chief engineer of vehicle performance. “There have had no major reliability problems which is also encouraging. We have been working hard with Michelin to ensure their products for the next few races are competitive.”

Renault drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Fernando Alonso were fourth and sixth fastest respectively, with the Finn almost three tenths of a second quicker than the Spaniard. Splitting the blue cars on the timesheet was the Williams of Nico Rosberg, whose fifth position was the highest place of the week for a Bridgestone runner.

BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica was eighth fastest with a time of 1m 18.075s, with team mate Jacques Villeneuve tenth. Kubica duplicated development work from the third day, whilst Villeneuve had a busier session carrying out brake material tests, aero work on new parts and also tyre compound testing for Budapest.

Toro Rosso’s Vitantanio Liuzzi was tenth quickest for his second day of testing for the team. Scott Speed who had been scheduled to test on Friday was still recovering from the back injury he sustained during his practice accident at Magny-Cours. Liuzzi evaluated various new aerodynamic components which look set to be used by the team at Hockenheim.

Christijan Albers was 13th for Midland on his first and only day of testing for the team. He completed 99 laps and tested some new aero developments that arrived in Jerez at the last minute, alongside tyre and suspension work.

"It was another good test day for us. We concentrated on tyres in the morning but the track lost a lot of grip in the afternoon when it became very hot,” explained Albers. “The suspension development is coming along quite well and I think we gathered some useful data for the coming races."

Following Ricardo Zonta’s engine fire on Thursday, Toyota returned to the track on Friday one car down - forcing Jarno Trulli to wait until the damaged machine had been rebuilt. Trulli eventually started testing after lunch, but could only complete 52 laps and the slowest time of the day - a 1m 19.955s. In the second TF106, Ralf Schumacher was 12th after completing his entire programme.

"We were concentrating on finishing our tyre programme and some general set-up work for the coming races. I especially wanted to get in as much running as possible as this is the last test before the summer break,” commented Schumacher. “My car needed to be worked on half way through the day, so we lost some laps, but in the end, the day was successful and we worked through a lot of different possibilities for the next races."

Elsewhere on Friday, Ferrari completed their last day of testing at Paul Ricard with Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa focusing on Bridgestone development in the 248 F1. The team used a different and longer track layout to simulate the characteristics of the German, Hungarian and Turkish circuits. Schumacher completed 147 laps and set a time of 1m 06.517s, whilst Massa went faster with a 1m 06.470s after 117 laps.

Ferrari are due to carry out a shakedown test at Fiorano on Tuesday ahead of the German Grand Prix. The teams then move into the unofficial three-week testing ban, with the next multi-team session scheduled to take place at Monza, Italy, in the week following the Turkish Grand Prix.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.187
2. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:17.320
3. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:17.382
4. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.461
5. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:17.520
6. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.774
7. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:17.885
8. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.054
9. Gary Paffett, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.325
10. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.716
11. Vitantanio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:18.774
12. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.083
13. Christijan Albers, Midland (Bridgestone), 1:19.139
14. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.955