McLaren had a promising week with rapid lap times and few mechanical failures, but early signs are that Renault and Ferrari are also very competitive. Toyota also made a surprise one-off appearance at the top of the time sheets.
After testing in Valencia was once again hampered by bad weather tyre supplier Bridgestone agreed to extend the test by one day, so the teams present also ran on Friday. Giancarlo Fisichella justified the extra test because, “we basically lost a day’s work.”
Testing resumes at Jerez this coming week.
Pedro de la Rosa told the press that Lewis Hamilton’s crash the previous week as a setback for the team – could there be a smidgeon of jealousy in this unusually frank admission from a McLaren tester?
Regardless McLaren’s MP4-22 was at the top of the time sheets more often than not: Fernando Alonso was fastest on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Hamilton was top on the extra day’s test on Friday. Hamilton’s 1m 11.119s lap was the fastest of any driver last week.
On Thursday Alonso was thought to be running the hardest Bridgestone compound available, and lapped with half a second of that day’s quickest time.
Alonso’s car did stop twice on the Tuesday, once due to an oil leak and once due to ‘radio miscommunication’ – though one can only imagine what that means. Did he run out of fuel?
Fisichella and Hekki Kovalainen posted consistent and quick times in the R27 – both were second and third on Wednesday and Thursday, and test driver Nelson Piquet Jnr was second on Tuesday.
Although Fisichella suffered an apparent engine failure on Wednesday the following day both race drivers completed over 100 laps.
Following their seriously limited running last week, Ferrari achieved some serious mileage on the F2007.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the new car on Tuesday while Luca Badoer suffered technical problems in the old 248 F1. Felipe Massa replaced Badoer in the old car on Wednesday.
On Thursday Raikkonen’s work was cut short with what appears to have been an engine problem, but he stayed on alone on Friday to put another 112 miles on the F2007.
Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button shared the new RA107 – Barrichello driving it on Tuesday and Wednesday, Button on Thursday and Friday. Test driver James Rossiter was present for the first three days in the interim car.
Although the new car’s lap times languished in the second half of the tables, it did at least achieve substantial mileage with little in the way of apparent technical problems, although Buttons’ car did stop on Thursday.
Nick Heidfeld shook down the second F1.07 chassis on Tuesday alongside test driver Sebastian Vettel. Robert Kubica replaced Vettel on Wednesday when Heidfeld was fifth quickest, 0.4s slower than Alonso.
But both suffered mechanical troubles on that day – Heidfeld stopping on the track late in the session and Kubica suffering a hydraulic fire.
Heidfeld was the first driver to try Bridgestone’s third and (thus far) softest tyre compound on Thursday and did 99 laps to Kubica’s 20. Both stayed on for the extra day’s testing on Friday.
Toyota provided the surprise of the week on Thursday by being the only team to top the testing times other than McLaren, on a day when most teams ran the softer Bridgestone tyre. Ralf Schumacher’s 1m 11.297 was 0.324s faster than Fisichella, second.
New test driver Frank Montagny had joined Jarno Trulli on Tuesday, before Schumacher replaced Montagny the following day. But Toyota did not take advantage of the extra day’s running on Friday.
Both drivers ran together on Thursday when Coulthard shook down the second RB3, but only Webber stayed on Friday to put 23 laps on the new car. Five man-days of testing yielded only 158 laps.
Kazuki Nakajima had a troubled start on Tuesday with two car failures and one spin. But on the following day in the interim Williams he managed 116 laps – more than anyone else that day.
On Thursday he caused another two red flags and finished bottom of the times. The team did not test on Friday as the launched the new FW29.
With the new car not coming until one week before the season starts, Super Aguri busied themselves with interim machinery.
Takuma Sato was slowest on Tuesday, then new test team mate Giedo van de Garde arrived alongside Sato to take his place at the bottom of the times on Wednesday.
Anthony Davidson was the only Aguri runner on Thursday, completing 133 laps, more than anyone else that day, following which the team left.
But the team ran into a dispute with Spyker F1 over the services of van de Garde. The Dutch team announced him as a test driver on Thursday despite Aguri’s claim to van de Garde. The two outfits are already embroiled in a bitter dispute over the 2007 chassis regulations.