2007 testing round-up 4

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2007, pre-seasonThe morale of the teams must have sunk when they arrived at Barcelona for testing this week and it rained on the first day.

Happily the weather cleared up and for the first time this year all the 11 teams were on-track together – although Super Aguri have yet to bring their new car.

Oh, and a familiar face showed up…

The Barcelona test marked the first time that the teams have run on a track where they will race this year. That will continue next week when they move on to Bahrain.

Ferrari, McLaren and BMW continue to look quick with Renault bubbling under. Honda and Red Bull are still dogged by reliability woes – though the latter made an unexpected appearance at the top of the time sheets on Wednesday.

Tyre supplier Bridgestone settled their choice of hard compound tyre following the test.

McLaren-Mercedes

Pedro de la Rosa was fastest of all on Monday – but by a scant thousandth of a second from Robert Kubica’s BMW. Team mate Fernando Alonso was third quickest. Lewis Hamilton replaced de la Rosa on the second day and he and Alonso were sixth and fourth on both the next two days.

Encouragingly the team appeared to suffer little in the way of reliability problems – and the two drivers managed 239 laps together on Wednesday.

But Hamilton, wisely, would not be drawn into comparisons with Alonso: “I do not read into them as we are both working on different programmes and focusing on developing.”

Renault

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, Barcelona, preseason, 2007, 2Renault’s absence from the sharp end of the times seemed to validate rumours of their struggle with the transition to Bridgestone rubber.

But both Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella were able to put substantial milegage on the R27, hindered only by a stoppage for the Finn on the final day.

Pat Symonds was optimistic that the team would get on top of the problems by Melbourne: “I think we are in a good position in terms of tyre degradation, but we have not yet unlocked the secret of getting performance out of the tyres on the first lap.”

Ferrari

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2007, pre-season, 2The week began badly for Ferrari as both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were frustrated by electrical problems on the first day.

But Massa buoyed the team – and gave a strong hint about the competitiveness of the F2007 – by running over half a second quicker than anyone on Tuesday. This was also the fastest time of the week by a similar margin.

Massa was then struck by further gremlins on the last day of testing, on the same day Michael Schumacher arrived to check on the team’s progress.

Honda

If Honda are determined not to create unrealistic expectations of their performance in 2007, they are doing a fantastic job. None of their cars were ranked higher than 12th all week.

Nor was the car’s reliability all that encouraging. Rubens Barrichello’s car stopped twice on Monday, once on Tuesday, and ended his day early on Wednesday with apparent engine failure. Christian Klien (on Monday) and Jenson Button (on Tuesday and Wednesday) fared better but still the team managed only 318 laps to McLaren’s 552.

Jenson Button remained positive, however: “We have made some improvements and I believe that we now have a much better understanding of the car and aerodynamics.”

BMW

BMW continue to show convincing flashes of promise – Robert Kubica second fastest on Monday, Nick Heidfeld likewise on Wednesday.

But there have been the usual testing niggles too – engine failure halted Kubica’s progress on Tuesday. Test driver Sebatian Vettel stopped the session on the final day with a spin.

Technical director Willy Rampf was encouraged by the progress: “On pure lap time we are quite quick and the long runs are representative too. We’ve actually had very low tyre degradation and our tyres have been quite consistent.”

Toyota

Franck Montagny was on duty all week, with Ralf Schumacher replacing Jarno Trulli in the second car on the final day. The team’s times were smack in the middle of the charts all week but, apart from a stoppage for Trulli on Tuesday, the cars ran reliably.

Red Bull-Renault

David Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault, Barcelona, pre-season, 2007Red Bull persevered with the recalcitrant RB3. David Coutlhard and Mark Webber were over 1.5s off the pace on Monday, and Webber’s car succumbed to hydraulic failure. The team still languished towards the bottom of the table on Tuesday.

After their struggles it was a surprise to see Coulthard top the times on Wednesday. The car may have pace, but reliability continues to be a big problem. Coulthard’s car suffered engine failure and Webber’s stopped another two times.

Williams-Toyota

Williams had a broadly positive week. Alex Wurz was fourth fastest on Monday and Nico Rosberg fifth on Wednesday. But Rosberg’s car failed on Tuesday and Rosberg’s did likewise on Wednesday.

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, Barcelona, pre-season, 2007Toro Rosso launched their STR2 – in all it’s conspicuously-similar-to-the-RB3 glory – late on Tuesday, so Vitantonio Liuzzi only ran the car on Wednesday.

Predictably it was slowest of all on its shakedown when Liuzzi did 30 laps.

Spyker-Ferrari

Christijan Albers, Spyker-Ferrari, Barcelona, pre-season, 2006Spyker made their first appearance at a test alongside other teams and the sole F8-VIII was slowest on Monday (driven by Adrian Sutil) and Tuesday (Christijan Albers).

Albers was stopped by mechanical failure on Tuesday but had an apparently reliable run on the final day.

Super Aguri-Honda

Super Aguri continued to work wither their sole interim car, with the new machine not due to be launched for several weeks. Anthony Davidson drove on the first two days and Takuma Sato on the last day, the latter doing more laps on that day (123) than anyone bar Hamilton.

Davidson was happy with the car’s race pace: “Although the tyres suffered a little with warm-up, we achieved a nice balance with the car on the longer runs.”

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