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Testing gets underway in Barcelona 14 Apr 2008

The new Toro Rosso STR3 is prepared in the garage ready to run tomorrow. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 14 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 14 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 Third Driver. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 14 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton A small fire for Alex Wurz (AUT) Honda RA108. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 14 April 2008. World ©  Hartley/Sutton

With the Spanish Grand Prix fast approaching, the Formula One teams are back in action this week, testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. The session, which begins on Monday, is the first opportunity the squads have had to test comprehensively since the season began and ten teams are expected to attend.

Following Felipe Massa’s dominant victory in Bahrain, Ferrari will be keen to maximize their current performance advantage during their four-day schedule. Massa will take charge of the F2008 over the first two days, before world champion Kimi Raikkonen joins the action.

Championship leaders BMW Sauber will also be at the Spanish test from Monday with both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica spending time in the F1.08. For McLaren’s four-day session, meanwhile, tester Pedro de la Rosa, Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen are all expected behind the wheel of the MP4-23.

The resurgent Williams team will field drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg for two days each, as the squad validate a number of new aero and mechanical developments. Fellow midfielders Renault will also be out in force as the French team try to rectify their drop in performance, while Honda plan to evaluate a major aero upgrade for the RA108 to up its pace ahead of the European leg of the season.

With Toro Rosso still racing an interim version of their 2007 car, the Italian squad are also expecting a busy time in Barcelona as they start on-track evaluations of their new machine ahead of its scheduled launch at May’s Turkish Grand Prix. Red Bull, Toyota and Force India will all be attendance too, although Super Aguri are expected to be absent, as the Japanese squad waits for their sale to be confirmed.

With nearly all the field present, however, Formula One tyre supplier Bridgestone have decided to use this week to complete another evaluation of their slick tyres ahead of their possible return next season. Runs undertaken on this sample rubber are understood not to count towards the teams’ agreed testing limits, so a busy week is expected.

The Circuit de Catalunya will be open to the public throughout the test, with tickets available for six Euros. If you are unable to attend in person, check Formula1.com for the latest images and daily updates on the teams’ progress. Note that all schedules are provisional and subject to change.