Bahrain day one - Ferrari one-two in testing 22 Feb 2007
Ferrari were the early leaders as this weeks Formula One test in Bahrain got underway on Thursday. Nine of the 11 teams are attending the three-day session, which will be followed by a further three days at the circuit next week.
Felipe Massa clocked the fastest time of 1m 31.766s around the Sakhir circuit, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen less than two tenths of a second behind. Jenson Button was an encouraging third quickest for Honda, with team mate Rubens Barrichello backing him up in fifth behind the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton.
The Bahrain visit will allow the teams (only Williams and Spyker are absent) to complete some invaluable warm-weather running ahead of the first three races of the season - Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain - all of which will take place in temperatures at the upper end of the scale.
Thursday saw a high of 26 degrees Celsius, as Massa and Raikkonen began Ferraris programme of endurance and set-up work, along with electronics development on the F2007. The pair completed 86 and 47 laps respectively.
The two Honda men were even busier, Button running 83 laps and Barrichello 101 as they continued development of the RA107, the race livery for which is finally due to be unveiled next week. Using a brand-new chassis, Button carried out an intensive aero programme plus tyre work. Meanwhile, Barrichello completed long tyre runs over a race distance.
It was a good day at McLaren for Hamilton, the British rookie outpacing more-experienced colleague Pedro de la Rosa, as he totalled 83 laps to the Spaniards 47. The team ran the Melbourne-spec version of the MP4-22 for the first time, with the drivers focus on final sign-off of several elements, including software.
Sebastian Vettel was the quicker of the two BMW Sauber drivers present, the young German going seventh fastest to Nick Heidfelds ninth. Vettel managed 104 laps, concentrating on tyres, traction control and new aero parts for the F1.07. However, technical problems on Heidfelds car limited him to 49 laps.
There was also car trouble at Toyota, with both Jarno Trulli (eighth) and Ralf Schumacher (15th) having to contend with transmission-related problems which meant they accumulated only 68 laps between them.
This was definitely not the first day we imagined here, said Dieter Gass, Toyotas chief race and test engineer. We faced quite a few issues which prevented us running through our programme smoothly. On Ralfs car after trouble with the clutch we had a problem with the differential control which we investigated throughout the afternoon. With Jarnos car we had a gearbox control issue in the morning which cost us a lot of time.
Anthony Davidson was at the wheel of Super Aguris interim car. The British driver made the top ten as he conducted set-up work, controls and aero analysis, whilst also determining the differences between the two Bridgestone Potenza tyres available at the test. Super Aguri are running just one car this week, with Davidson scheduled to drive all three days.
Renault made a low-key start to their Sakhir session with Heikki Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet Jr down in 11th and 12th spots respectively, the pair racking up an impressive 205 laps between them.
"We got plenty of mileage under our belts, reported Renaults Christian Silk. Both drivers completed race simulations without any problems, and began some set-up work, which confirmed our conclusion from recent weeks. It was an encouraging start to the programme, and we hope to continue in the same manner tomorrow."
Red Bull achieved relatively little mileage with the new RB3. Mark Webber was 13th fastest after his 27 laps, just ahead of team mate David Coulthard who managed 31. Stable mate Vitantonio Liuzzi was 16th in the sole Toro Rosso after having to sit out the afternoon due to mechanical problems.
"It was a frustrating morning as we had a fuel pressure problem, which we hadn't been aware of in Europe, explained Webber. The boys did a good job to fix the issue and towards the end of the day we were able to complete some more laps, even if we only used one set of tyres."
"We had to sort out lots of small problems today, so it wasn't the best testing day I've ever had, added Coulthard. But, if you want to get closer to the top, you have to deal with such situations, so I would say today was another development into the right direction."
Testing continues in Bahrain on Friday.
Unofficial Thursday times from Bahrain:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:31.766
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:31.901
3. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:32.099
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:32.182
5. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:32.570
6. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:32.621
7. Sebastian Vettel, BMW Sauber, 1:32.652
8. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:32.787
9. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:32.810
10. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:32.396
11. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:33.139
12. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:33.816
13. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:34.077
14. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:34.595
15. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:35.265
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:36.345