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Paul Ricard day two - Hamilton the man to beat 17 May 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mclaren MP4/21 Formula One Testing, Day 1, Paul Ricard, France. 16 May 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari Formula One Testing, Day 1, Paul Ricard, France. 16 May 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Paul Ricard, France. 16 May 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Adrian Sutil (GER) Spyker Formula One Testing, Day 1, Paul Ricard, France. 16 May 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Formula One Testing, Day 1, Paul Ricard, France. 16 May 2007. World © Patching/Sutton

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton showed no sign of loosening his grip at the top of the timesheets on Wednesday, as testing continued at Paul Ricard. Hamilton’s best lap round the French track was a 1m 05.614s - just over one-tenth quicker than the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Taking advantage of the less windy conditions, Hamilton covered a massive 133 laps of the circuit’s 2D 3C configuration, which has been designed to imitate Monaco’s distinctive twists and turns. He evaluated the MP4-22’s aero package and tested Bridgestone’s softer compound ahead of next weekend’s Monte Carlo race. The British driver will be replaced by McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa on Thursday.

After finishing Tuesday’s running in sixth, Massa was pleased to be back near the top of the timings in second. The Brazilian completed just over 100 laps as he concentrated on finding the best set-up for Monaco, as well as evaluating some of the F2007’s new mechanical and aerodynamic components.

Third fastest was Robert Kubica for BMW Sauber. Kubica started the day working on the F1.07’s baseline set-up, before switching to aero evaluations and electronics testing. The Pole covered 140 laps and will continue to test at the circuit on Thursday. Just a tenth down on Kubica's BMW Sauber was the Red Bull of David Coulthard. The Scot completed 137 laps while carrying out suspension and tyre work.

Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato, meanwhile, took the fifth slot. Although Sato’s running was interrupted by a small technical setback in the morning, the Japanese driver managed to complete 115 laps, evaluating the SA07’s aero package for Monaco. Newly-signed tester James Rossiter will drive for the team on Thursday.

Heikki Kovalainen was sixth fastest for Renault, as he continued the work begun by test driver Nelson Piquet Jr on Wednesday. Kovalainen concentrated on Monaco set-up and conducted several aerodynamic tests. The Finn covered a mammoth 151 laps.

"We completed a trouble-free day without any difficulty, and ran through a wide range of set-up solutions that we wanted to test,” explained Christian Silk, Renault’s chief test engineer. “I think the data from today looks good, and will be a good basis for our work in Monaco and at the next races. It was a busy day for Heikki, and the engineers now have to analyse the data to make the most of the work he completed today!"

Rubens Barrichello was back in the driving seat for Honda and finished seventh quickest. Barrichello spent the majority of the day evaluating a variety of aero options on the RA107 and completed a tyre programme over four long runs in the afternoon. Just behind the Brazilian was Alex Wurz for Williams, who covered over 100 laps as he completed the British team’s Monaco set-up programme.

Ralf Schumacher finished the day ninth for Toyota. Schumacher’s second day on track was dedicated to finding the TF107’s best balance for the Monaco Grand Prix. Over a second down on the German was Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, who was testing for Toro Rosso for a second time. With no mechanical issues interrupting running, Bourdais covered 142 laps as he carried out tyre evaluations and aero tests.

Completing the line-up were Spyker drivers Christijan Albers and Adrian Sutil. While Sutil, 12th, drove the F8-VII in the morning, Albers, 11th, took charge in the afternoon. Both ran a similar programme and worked through several tyre comparisons and evaluated set-up for Monte Carlo.

All 11 teams will continue to test at Paul Ricard on Thursday, when the French circuit will be modified to replicate the layout of the Montreal circuit, thereby allowing everyone to prepare for the forthcoming Canadian Grand Prix.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:05.614
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:05.755
3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:06.186
4. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:06.201
5. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, 1:06.281
6. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:06.302
7. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:06.516
8. Alex Wurz, Williams, 1:06.576
9. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:06.598
10. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:07.743
11. Christijan Albers, Spyker, 1:07.946
12. Adrian Sutil, Spyker, 1:08.134