Jerez day one - Kovalainen first of six 14 Sep 2006
Renaults Heikki Kovalainen set the pace in testing at Jerez on Wednesday. Kovalainen, confirmed by the team last week as a 2007 race driver, lapped the Spanish circuit in 1m 17.236 - over two tenths quicker than the Honda of Anthony Davidson.
Kovalainen was among five test drivers in action, the young Finn completing 102 laps as he concentrated predominantly on tyre work, selecting compounds for the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix.
GP2 driver Jose Maria Lopez tested in the second Renault and clocked the third-fastest time. The Argentinean spent the day working on general set-up, but also carried out an important brake development programme.
We have enjoyed a good first day at the test, explained Christian Silk, Renaults chief test engineer. We were expecting dirty track conditions that were changing all the way through the day, but this didn't prove to be the case. Conditions were good immediately which allowed us to make good progress with our tyre testing. Heikki and Jose both put in a good day's work."
At Honda, Davidson was joined by the more experienced Rubens Barrichello, who was the only race driver to make runs on Wednesday. The Brazilian clocked the fourth-fastest time - almost a second off the pace of Davidson.
Both Hondas began the day working through set-up before switching to aero evaluations later on. Then in the afternoon, once the circuit had cleaned up, the pair switched to a tyre programme. Barrichello also completed some electronic systems work.
Robert Doornbos and newcomer Michael Ammermuller completed the days line-up for Red Bull in fifth and sixth places respectively. Doornbos, promoted earlier this week to replace Christian Klien in the last three Grands Prix of the season, began preparations for his first race in almost a year.
Meanwhile, GP2 star Ammermuller enjoyed a successful Formula One test debut, the German finishing less than a tenth of a second slower than Doornbos.
Testing continues at Jerez on Thursday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez
1. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.236
2. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:17.499
3. Jose Maria Lopez, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.617
4. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:18.424
5. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:19.527
6. Michael Ammermuller, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:19.614