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Spa day one - Hamilton sets the pace in Belgium 11 Jul 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 Formula One Testing, 10-12 July 2007, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. World © Moy/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.07 Formula One Testing, 10-12 July 2007, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. World © Moy/Sutton Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 248 F1 Formula One Testing, 10-12 July 2007, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. World © Moy/Sutton Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01 locks a wheel Formula One Testing, 10-12 July 2007, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. World © Moy/Sutton James Rossiter (GBR) Super Aguri Test Driver Formula One Testing, 10-12 July 2007, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. World © Moy/Sutton

Lewis Hamilton was the quickest man on track on Tuesday, as this week’s three-day test got underway at the newly-revamped Spa-Francochamps circuit in Belgium. Hamilton clocked a best lap of 1m 46.613s to put McLaren top of the timesheets. The British driver was just over four-tenths of a second quicker than BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica.

Hamilton concentrated on conducting aero tests for the forthcoming Belgian Grand Prix, which will take place at the Spa circuit in September. He also carried out several long runs and a few practice starts. Team mate Fernando Alonso will take over driving duties on Wednesday, although changeable weather conditions are expected and may limit the Spaniard’s running.

Kubica, meanwhile, kicked off BMW Sauber’s intensive test programme. The Polish driver focused on set-up work and tried out a variety of different aerodynamic settings, while also evaluating new mechanical components. He will continue to test for the remaining two days of the session. Over four-tenths down on Kubica's time was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who completed 64 laps, as he focused on development work in the F2007.

Fourth-quickest driver was Ralf Schumacher for Toyota. After their disappointing showing at last weekend’s race at Silverstone, the Japanese team enjoyed a productive day evaluating tyres for the Belgian event. Schumacher covered 70 laps and will be back in car on Wednesday.

“It is good to have the chance to test here before the race because it enables us to have a preview of the new track layout,” explained Gerd Pfeiffer, Toyota’s test team manager. “There have been changes made around the start-finish area of the lap and there is also a new tarmac around that area. This gives everyone a useful head start for the Belgian Grand Prix. We are also preparing for the coming races and we put some work on dampers and other systems today. We completed our programme without major issues so this has been a positive day.”

Renault tester Nelson Piquet Jr was fifth quickest after completing 52 laps in the R27. Although Piquet’s programme was slightly delayed by an electronic glitch in the late morning, the French team were pleased with progress.

“We managed to get the best out of the afternoon and the results are very interesting,” explained Christian Silk, the squad’s chief test engineer. “We're concentrating on preparing for the Belgian Grand Prix, but not only that as we're also trying to progress in our overall development programme - we're working flat out. Nelson said he was pretty happy with the car's overall balance even if we still have a little work to do in this area.”

Sixth fastest was David Coulthard, who focused on aero work in the Red Bull. Just over four-hundredths adrift of the Scot was Super Aguri tester James Rossiter, who finished the session seventh quickest. Rossiter spent the morning running through an electronic systems control test before completing a general set-up programme during the afternoon. Toro Rosso driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi, meanwhile, took up eighth slot, after a busy day evaluating tyres, set-up and downforce levels. Three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais will take over from the Italian on Wednesday.

Williams driver Nico Rosberg finished ninth after covering 60 laps in the FW29. Although a problem in the afternoon slowed his progress, Rosberg did manage to complete a race simulation and several set-up runs over the day. Just two-tenths down on the young German was the Honda tester Christian Klien, who concentrated on aero work and start simulations in the RA107.

Completing the line-up was Spyker test driver Giedo van der Garde in 11th. Set-up work and aero development dominated the programme for the Dutch team and van der Garde covered over 350 kilometres.