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Sepang day one - Kubica sets early pace 27 Mar 2007

Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.07. Formula One Testing, Day One, Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, 27 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R27. Formula One Testing, Day One, Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, 27 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR2. Formula One Testing, Day One, Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, 27 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams FW29 runs new tyres with red dots on the sidewalls and a white line around the tread. Formula One Testing, Day One, Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, 27 March 2007. World © Sutton Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2007. Formula One Testing, Day One, Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, 27 March 2007. World ©  Hartley/Sutton

BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica led the way as this week’s three-day test at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit got underway on Tuesday. Kubica was just over a tenth quicker than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen as ten teams began preparations for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

In line with the 2007 Testing Agreement, teams were only running one car each and at BMW, Kubica carried out a varied programme including set-up, evaluation of new aero parts for the F1.07, as well as the two tyre compounds that Bridgestone will be supplying for the April 8 race.

Kubica was the busiest man, running 92 laps, while at Ferrari, Australian Grand Prix winner Raikkonen completed 54 in the F2007. The Finn will continue work on Wednesday before handing over to Felipe Massa for the final day.

Alexander Wurz was third fastest after 90 laps for Williams, the Austrian also trying out some new tyre marking ideas for Bridgestone. “We worked through a programme of short runs in the morning, followed by longer runs in the afternoon to test aero components and set-up options in preparation for the race next weekend,” explained race team manager Tim Newton. “It’s the first time we’ve run the car in such hot conditions so it’s important data for us.”

Honda’s Rubens Barrichello was fourth fastest, followed by Pedro de la Rosa, the McLaren tester trying out new components on the MP4-22. Frenchman Franck Montagny filled sixth spot for Toyota, despite losing much of the afternoon to a drivetrain failure, ahead of Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato and David Coulthard in the Red Bull.

Renault had a frustrating day. Nelson Piquet Jr’s initial focus was establishing a base-line set-up for the R27, to allow the Brazilian to progress on to normal set-up work. However, minor mechanical problems meant he lost a lot of track time, ending the day ninth in the times after 32 laps.

“It was a shame I didn’t manage to do more running today, but these things can happen during testing,” said Piquet, who hands over to Heikki Kovalainen on Wednesday. “This is a fun circuit, and the conditions are very different to anything we have encountered so far during the testing programme. That means this will be an important, interesting session for us and all the teams.”

Toro Rosso's Scott Speed completed the line-up in tenth place at Sepang, where as expected, conditions were hot and fine, with track temperature peaking at close to 50 degrees Celsius. Testing continues at the circuit on Wednesday.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Sepang:
1. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:36.187
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:36.302
3. Alexander Wurz, Williams, 1:36.334
4. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:36.826
5. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:37.106
6. Franck Montagny, Toyota, 1:37.267
7. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, 1:37.389
8. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:37.609
9. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:38.199
10. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:38.503