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Back to Barcelona: testing to resume in Spain 18 Feb 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 03 February 2008.  World © Bumstead/Sutton Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4 with a radical wing Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 01 February 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW30 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 01 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 02 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 01 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton

With just 24 days to go until the season opener in Melbourne, all 11 teams are hard at work fine-tuning their 2008 cars. Over the next three weeks preparations will step up a gear, with efforts both on and off track set to go into overdrive as March’s Australian Grand Prix draws ever closer. This week, the action will focus on Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, which hosts the penultimate pre-season test session.

Williams, Red Bull, Renault, Honda, McLaren and Toyota are among the teams making the journey across Spain from last week’s Jerez session to the Barcelona track, with the majority expected to begin three-day programmes on Tuesday.

While Red Bull have enjoyed a positive start to the year - Mark Webber topped the timesheets on Thursday last week in the RB4 - Williams’ 2008 has been slightly more hit and miss. However, after a successful three days in Jerez last week, the British team have resolved the front-wing mounting issue that temporarily halted their test schedule earlier this month and are hopeful they can continue to impress in Barcelona.

Renault’s start to 2008 has been largely upbeat, with their new R28 enjoying several constructive outings. Fernando Alonso, new team mate Nelson Piquet Jr and tester Lucas Di Grassi have all gleaned encouraging results and reliability from the new car since its launch.

Toyota will also be hard at work at the Circuit de Catalunya, with Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli and tester Kamui Kobayashi all scheduled to drive. It follows their fruitful three-day session alongside Ferrari in Bahrain earlier this month. Although generally outpaced by the Italian team, Toyota generated a great deal of data at Sakhir, data they will hope to build upon in Spain.

Super Aguri, however, who had been expected to attend the test, have pulled out at the last minute citing circumstances beyond their control. The news comes as a blow to the Japanese team’s pre-season programme. They have completed just one full test since January and are yet to launch their new SA08.

After wowing in Bahrain, Ferrari will be in action in Barcelona. Felipe Massa and world champion Kimi Raikkonen are both expected to drive from Wednesday till Friday.

BMW Sauber, who are hoping to win their first race this season, will also be testing from Tuesday, albeit in isolation in Valencia. The German-Swiss team hope they are on the road to recovery after a somewhat rocky start to 2008, marred by the F1.08’s inconsistent pace. Race drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert are both due to work on improving the new car’s set-up and balance.

Force India and Toro Rosso, however, are expected to focus their attentions on work back at the factory and will all be absent from the test track.

Note that all schedules are provisional and subject to change. Check back later in the week for daily updates on the teams’ testing progress.