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Poor weather makes for frustrating week in Spain 22 Feb 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday 19 February 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Red Bull Racing pitstop practice. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday 20 February 2008. orld © Hartley/Sutton Timo Glock (GER) Toyota watches Red Bull Racing practice pitstops. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday 20 February 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari F2008 passes Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday 20 February 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday 20 February 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

With just 20 days to go until the season opener in Melbourne, track time for all the teams is a prized commodity. But no amount of bartering could help the six teams testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya put an end to the poor weather conditions at the Spanish track this week.

Most arrived to start their three-day programmes on Tuesday, but intermittent showers throughout the session limited the majority to carrying out brief runs and practising pit stops. On Wednesday too, the wet weather continued to hamper progress, before the sun finally shone on Thursday.

“We have been waiting for a long time to do some dry running and we made the most of it,” said Renault’s Fernando Alonso after Thursday’s test. “The track conditions were not perfect, but they were good enough for what we wanted to test and they remained consistent for the whole day.”

The Toyota team, who had hoped to spend the three days evaluating a new aerodynamic package, were equally relieved when the track at last dried out on Thursday. The sunshine on the final day saw race driver Timo Glock cover 109 laps whilst testing the new components.

“Finally we had a day of running in the dry today so we could at last begin meaningful work on our new aerodynamics package,” said Toyota’s chief engineer race and test, Dieter Gass. “It was still a difficult day because there were many disruptions for red flags. But on Timo’s car we made it through the programme of work that we had penciled in for the first day of this week’s test.”

For Williams’ driver Nico Rosberg, however, the inclement conditions did have some benefits - not least providing the team the opportunity to weigh up the car’s performance in the wet and give himself the chance to evaluate how well he coped without traction control on a damp track.

“We’ve had plenty of running in the wet this week and we looked pretty good, which was positive,” Rosberg said. “It wasn’t that easy to drive in the conditions, it’s hard to keep the tyres in the working window, especially without traction control, so you’re always quite on the limit.”

Of all six teams in action at Barcelona, Ferrari were by far the most fortunate. The world champions, who chose to start their three days’ of running on Wednesday, will test alone at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, taking advantage of the drier conditions that are expected to continue at the Spanish track.

Luckily for their rival teams, all 10 are scheduled to join them again at the circuit next week for the final pre-season test, starting on Monday.

With sunshine and showers again predicted, however, those under pressure to complete their Melbourne preparations will no doubt have their fingers crossed that the rain will not materialise.