Paul Ricard day two - Raikkonen on top in France 16 May 2008
Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen was Thursdays fastest driver, as this weeks multi-team test continued at Paul Ricard. Raikkonens best time - a 1m 05.381 s - was enough to hold off McLarens Heikki Kovalainen, who finished a tenth adrift of his Finnish compatriot.
Raikkonen covered a total of 105 laps, and with the French circuit set-up to simulate the twists and turns of the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix, high downforce Monte Carlo preparations remained the order of the day. The world champion will hand over the F2008 to team mate Felipe Massa on Friday.
Kovalainen covered 89 laps in the McLaren and finished over four-tenths ahead of Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. Kubica evaluated different aero and suspension specifications and completed 135 laps, despite a brief rain shower after lunch. Nick Heidfeld will take charge of the F1.08 on Friday for the final day of the test.
David Coulthard finished fourth fastest for Red Bull in spite of a few technical problems. Coulthards programme focused on testing new aero components, as well as evaluating several different mechanical set-ups. On Friday, team tester Sebastien Buemi will take over from the Scot.
Hondas Jenson Button was the fifth-quickest driver. Button completed a comprehensive tyre evaluation, running both the soft and super-soft Bridgestones he will use during the Monaco race, and covered 155 laps. He will continue to run on Friday. Sebastien Bourdais, meanwhile, went sixth-fastest for Toro Rosso. Bourdais spent most of the day acclimatising to the squads new STR03, but also ran a tyre comparison.
Toyotas Jarno Trulli was seventh fastest, as he continued the Japanese squads Monaco preparations after taking over from team mate Timo Glock. Trulli covered 120 laps finalising aerodynamic set-ups. Renaults Nelson Piquet, eighth, was the only other driver to make it below the 1m 0.7s mark and covered a mammoth 193 laps.
We got through quite a lot today and fortunately it stayed dry for most of the day, which meant I was able to complete a lot of laps, Piquet said. But it's difficult so simulate the conditions we will have in Monaco next week, and so we mainly concentrated on putting miles on the car and evaluating a couple of new developments that we have, as opposed to set-up work.
Kazuki Nakajima finished ninth for Williams after 123 laps in the FW30. Force India, meanwhile, were the only team to field two drivers with Adrian Sutil in the VJM01 in the morning, before Giancarlo Fisichella got his chance to sample the car in the afternoon. Sutil took up the 10th slot, while Fisichella completed the line-up in 11th.
Both race drivers used the day for Monaco preparation working on general setup, tyre evaluation and getting another read on some of the development items that were started on the first day, explained Dominic Harlow, Force India's chief race and test engineer. No major problems aside from the light rain shower at lunchtime.
The test will continue on Friday, when the French track will be reconfigured to replicate Montreals Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, thereby enabling all 10 teams to prepare for Junes Canadian Grand Prix.
Unofficial Thursday test times from Paul Ricard:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:05.381
2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:05.471
3. Robert Kubica. BMW Sauber, 1:05.905
4. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:06.001
5. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:06.091
6. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:06.125
7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:06.205
8. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:06.355
9. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:07.080
10. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:07.104
11. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:07.123