Michael Schumacher returned to cast his shadow over the rest of the F1 field by topping the time sheets at the end of the first day’s testing in Barcelona.
Several 2007 racers were present including Heikki Kovalainen, David Coulthard, Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica, Kazuki Nakajima, Jarno Trulli, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Anthony Davidson.
A large part of the day’s activities involved running the cars without traction control as they will race in 2008.
Despite this Schumacher set the fastest time of the day, 0.2s quicker than Luca Badoer in the other Ferrari, and seven-tenths quicker than Pedro de la Rosa’s McLaren.
Schumacher’s competitive test will inevitably lead people to question why he doesn’t make a full racing return in 2008, although he has given no indication that he would do that.
Not everyone was impressed, however. Former Ferrari champion Niki Lauda said: “For me Schumacher’s test is nothing but advertising for Marlboro, just like his recent ride on a Ducati.” (Schumacher attender a Moto GP test last week where he lapped within five seconds of the top motorbike riders.)
Coulthard joked: “I think there is a guy called Michael. It looks as though he’s got a talent. He will make his way to F1…”