NOVEMBER 30, 2006
The first test of the winter
Ferrari has been in command at the Barcelona test in recent days with Felipe Massa fastest on the first two days of running and test driver Luca Badoer setting the fastest time on the third day - and overall. With only Toyota running on Friday there is no great likelihood that Badoer's time will be beaten. His best lap was a 1m16.317s, beating the previous day's best of 1m16.403s, set by Massa. Felipe did not run on the final day when second test driver Marc Gene took over and set the seventh fastest time overall with a 1m17.340s.
Badoer's best lap was three-tenths of a second faster than the best achieved by Renault's Heikki Kovalainen, who stopped the clocks at 1m16.609s, the third best lap of the test. Renault's new test driver Nelson Piquet Jr was ninth quickest after three days running with a 1m17.428s.
The only other man to break into the 1m16s was BMW's Robert Kubica who recorded a 1m16.729s on the third day of the test. Nick Heidfeld did the first two days and set a best of 1m17.159s, which was the fifth fastest time of the test, before handing the car over to Timo Glock who did a good job on his first day with the team to record a 1m17.632s, which was good enough for ninth overall. He will only get better.
The same can be said for McLaren's Lewis Hamilton who was much in the spotlight with three days of running and a best of 1m17.077s. This was the fourth fastest time overall and was ahead of Pedro de la Rosa, who did just the first two days, setting a best of 1m17.546s on the opening day, which ended up as the 10th fastest time overall.
Mika Hakkinen got a lot of coverage but his best time after a day of running was 1m19.336s, which was well off the pace. Given that it is five years since the Finn tested an F1 car this is not bad but he needed to get a lot closer to the pace if his tyre testing experience is going to be helpful to the team.
Honda Racing F1 ran without Jenson Button, which left Rubens Barrichello as the quickest Honda man with a 1m17.190s on the last day (which was the sixth best overall time of the test). The team also ran new test driver Christian Klien on two of the three days and he ended up with a best of 1m17.774s, which was 12th quickest. James Rossiter was also in action on the first day and recorded a 1m18.526s.
Toyota's best effort was Ralf Schumacher's 1m17.359s on the last day - Ralf's first. The team also ran Olivier Panis, who did the second day and recorded a 1m17.643a (good for 11th overall), Jarno Trulli, who set a best lap of 1m18.109s on the third day - the 13th fastest lap overall - although this was slower than David Coulthard's best for Red Bull Racing. Toyota also ran Kamui Kobayashi who recorded a best of 1m20.731s on his first day.
Coulthard's 1m17.876s was the best lap achieved by Red Bull Racing, while new signing Mark Webber played himself in with a 1m18.249s on the second day of testing. Michael Ammmermuller ran on the third day and set a best of 1m18.741s.
Thirteenth overall was Anthony Davidson in the Super Aguri Honda (actually a recent Honda chassis), who recorded a best of 1m18.045s.
Next up was Narain Karthikeyan in his Williams with a 1m18.087s on the third day which was clear of Alexander Wurz's best time on the first day of 1m18.691s.
Scuderia Toro Rosso was also in action with Scott Speed setting a best of 1m18.528s and Tonio Liuzzi recording a 1m18.798s.
When all is said and done, however, the times mean little as the cars are all the same as this year's models and the work is currently centred on tyres as the Michelin teams get used to Bridgestones.
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