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Valencia day three - Schumacher tops the times 02 Feb 2007

Ralf Schumacher (GER), Toyota TF107. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, Day 3, 1 February 2007. World © Alves/Sutton Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, Day 3, 1 February 2007. World © Alves/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R27 Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, Day 3, 1 February 2007. David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3 Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, Day 3, 1 February 2007. World © Alves/Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MP4-22. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, Day 3, 1 February 2007. World © Alves/Sutton

Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher was the fastest runner during testing on Thursday in Valencia. Schumacher took advantage of drier conditions at the Spanish circuit to clock a best time of 1m 11.297s - just over two-tenths of a second quicker than Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault.

Schumacher was Toyota’s only driver for the day and covered 50 laps in the team’s 2007 car, the TF107, working through a variety of systems checks. The German’s team mate Jarno Trulli, who had been scheduled to take part, was forced to sit out, after a technical problem was recorded on his car.

“Obviously today did not go as planned due to the high temperatures around the rear crash structure that we discovered last night,” explained Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general manager chassis. “Unfortunately this meant we were not able to run a two-car programme as planned. The guys worked hard to make sure Ralf had a chance to put some more miles on the TF107 in the afternoon and that gave us some important information.”

Renault continued to enjoy positive results, with Heikki Kovalainen taking the third slot, just behind his second-placed team mate Fisichella. Both took charge of R27s and focused on testing the reliability of the French team’s 2007 challenger. The day proved extremely productive, the pair covering 230 laps in total.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who had clocked the fastest time during the previous two days, had to be satisfied with the fourth-quickest time on Thursday. He was joined by test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who ended the session in seventh. Alonso and De la Rosa both took charge of MP4-22s and concentrated their attentions on set-up and aerodynamic development. Lewis Hamilton will be back in the cockpit on Friday, replacing Alonso.

Nick Heidfeld was back behind the wheel of the BMW Sauber F1.07, setting another convincing time in fifth as he completed set-up work and tyre evaluations. Joining him for a second day was fellow race driver Robert Kubica, who finished in ninth. Unlike Heidfeld’s 100 laps, Kubica only managed to cover 19, before technical problems curtailed his running. Third driver Sebastian Vettel will join Kubica on track on Friday.

Ferrari's day proved far more low-key, with Kimi Raikkonen sixth fastest and team mate Felipe Massa in eighth. While Raikkonen remained behind the wheel of the F2007, Massa took charge of the team’s 2006 car. The Finn, however, was forced to abandon testing halfway through the afternoon session because of unspecified technical problems.

Jenson Button and James Rossiter ended the day in 10th and 13th respectively for Honda. Button took over from team mate Rubens Barrichello in the RA107, continuing the set-up and evaluation of the new chassis. Rossiter, in the older RA106, only completed an early installation run, before the team decided to focus its attentions on Button’s programme.

In 11th spot was Anthony Davidson for Super Aguri. Davidson’s programme focused on tyre evaluation of the compounds available from Bridgestone, but he also managed to fit in some brake material analysis and control system testing.

“It was a good day,” explained Davidson. “We completed 133 laps and made up for lost time due to bad weather during the test. We got some important tyre work done and it was interesting working with the different tyre options. We achieved some good longer runs towards the end of the day and generally I was happy with the balance of the car.”

For the first time during this week’s Spanish test, Red Bull fielded both David Coulthard, 12th, and Mark Webber, 14th. Kazuki Nakajima, meanwhile, continued alone for Williams and finished at the bottom of the timesheets in the team’s interim car.

Testing continues in Valencia on Friday, with most teams staying on for an extra day to catch up on work missed due to the poor weather earlier in the week.

Unofficial Thursday times from Valencia:
1. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:11.297
2. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 1:11.522
3. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:11.648
4. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:11.710
5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:11.993
6. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:12.360
7. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:12.361
8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:12.418
9. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:12.846
10. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:12.924
11. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:13.143
12. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:13.450
13. James Rossiter, Honda, 1:13.716
14. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:13.801
15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:13.944