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Jerez day one - Heidfeld, Button lead on slick tyres 05 Dec 2007

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07 Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 04 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA107 on slick tyres. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 4 December 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2007 Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 04 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW29 Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 04 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Marko Asmer (EST) tests for BMW Sauber. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 04 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld topped the times on the opening day of testing at Jerez on Tuesday. Heidfeld clocked his best lap on non-grooved tyres, as Bridgestone began an early evaluation of slicks ahead of their possible return in 2009.

Along with BMW Sauber, Honda and Super Aguri also tried out the new rubber, with Jenson Button second fastest, all but matching Heidfeld’s time. McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa was the quickest man on grooved tyres, around six-tenths off the pace in third.

Like most of the field, Heidfeld was concentrating on electronics and driving with no traction control in preparation for the 2008 season. BMW Sauber also took the opportunity to test two young drivers. Twenty-year-old Spaniard Javier Villa was 20th on his first taste of Formula One power, while Estonia’s Marko Asmer, the reigning British Formula Three champion, was 18th.

At Honda, new team principal Ross Brawn was on hand to witness Button’s progress. He also saw Mike Conway go tenth fastest as the Japanese squad’s young driver programme continued, with Luca Filippi and Andreas Zuber due to test again later in the week.

McLaren had two chassis at the track, one set-up to focus on aerodynamic development and the other on the proving of chassis components. De la Rosa and Gary Paffett, seventh fastest, swapped between the chassis during the day. McLaren are scheduled to sample Bridgstone’s slick tyres on Friday.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest as he returned to the Ferrari cockpit alongside Spanish tester Marc Gene, who was ninth, while Nelson Piquet Jr had an encouraging first day as he took fifth spot for Renault.

"It was good to get back to driving today, particularly as I will be in the car for all three days this week,” said Piquet. “I was comfortable in the car, and it felt good to be running without driver aids. We found a good set-up for the car today, and that will help us make more progress tomorrow."

2008 Toro Rosso team mates Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel finished sixth and 11th respectively. Vettel's programme focussed on development of gearbox and engine control systems. His day was cut short by a technical problem, though he did manage to complete a brake system evaluation. Bourdais had a trouble free day, working on a front flap comparison while also evaluating front suspension solutions. Sister team Red Bull had Mark Webber in action, the Australian going eighth fastest.

James Rossiter was 12th for Super Aguri. Rossiter ran with the slick tyres for the first time in the afternoon and spent time evaluating mechanical and aerodynamic set-ups to suit the tyre configuration, as well as working on 2008 electronics.

Timo Glock spent his first day at the track with his 2008 team, Toyota. The German was 13th, with the Japanese squad’s 2008 third driver, Kamui Kobayashi, 19th.

“It has been a very interesting experience to have two new drivers in the car today,” said Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon. “We are very pleased to have Timo in the car and he has made a strong first impression. He is very focused and worked hard today to understand the car and make some improvements in set-up. As expected, he did a good job and provided solid feedback, which is very useful for us. He drove without driver aids today but that was no problem for him because of his experience in GP2 driving without traction is natural to him.

“The team already know Kamui from his tests with us last winter but he is a young driver with not so much Formula One experience so he had to acclimatise and get used to a Formula One car again. He did a good job, didn’t make any mistakes and gave us some data on set-up with the new electronics system and new rear end. He also completed an impressive number of laps which shows how fit he is.”

Force India began their week of multiple driver testing with Giancarlo Fisichella (14th) and Franck Montagny (16th) behind the wheel. Fisichella worked on basic set-up and continued electronic systems development and, at the end of the day, was able to do a preliminary run on the 2009 slicks. Montagny was working on electronic development and some set-up parameters plus damper work.

“It's my first day back in the car nearly two months after the last race in Brazil, plus my first with another car and new engine, and of course without the electronics,” said Fisichella. “Considering this I am quite happy about how the day went though. We did have a couple of issues so I didn't run as much as I would have liked; with new tyres I had a problem with the hydraulic pressure, and when I tried out the slick tyres there was a problem on the diff so we didn't get a proper idea of how the tyres will work. All the same I do think it's been a positive day though and a good basis for tomorrow.”

Montagny commented: “It's been a good day. We did have a bit of bad luck with our new tyre runs though - we had two new sets of tyres, and with the first set I stopped and the other there was a red flag. It was good fun and nice to work with the team. It was interesting to see how everyone works and I think we did quite a reasonable job together. Unfortunately the track is quite hard on tyres and we had a lot of degradation, which doesn't help you do all the set up work we wanted to do today, but I enjoyed it all the same and I think the team got some useful information.”

Williams completed the Tuesday line-up with German newcomer Nico Hulkenberg 15th fastest on his debut for the team, outpacing 2008 race driver Kazuki Nakajima, who was 17th.

Conditions at Jerez were fine and sunny. Testing continues at the Spanish ciruit until Friday.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Jerez:
1. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.042
2. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:19.155
3. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:19.712
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:20.063
5. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:20.366
6. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:20.615
7. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:20.638
8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:20.682
9. Marc Gene, Ferrari, 1:20.832
10. Mike Conway, Honda, 1:20.927
11. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:21.060
12. James Rossiter, Super Aguri, 1:21.246
13. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:21.336
14. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:21.424
15. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:21.551
16. Franck Montagny, Force India, 1:21.559
17. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.566
18. Marko Asmer, BMW Sauber, 1:21.962
19. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:22.196
20. Javier Villa, BMW Sauber, 1:22.503