Meanwhile in Jerez

There is testing this week in Jerez and while this provides plenty of headlines for those with daily deadlines it is a little early to reach any startling conclusions about the season ahead, as half the teams are still running with their old cars and others are just beginning the process of settling in with the new machinery. It is, however, an opportunity to see whether or not the new cars are reliable from the start - which is always a good sign.

At the end of the second day the fastest man overall was Fernando Alonso in the 2007 Renault with a best lap of 1m19.503s after 70 laps. This is an indication that the times are not to be trusted, rather than Renault having made a huge leap forward.

The Spnaish spectators were also kept happy with Pedro de la Rosa being second fastest overall with the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 which recorded a best lap of 1m19.650s having completed 164 laps while Kimi Raikkonen was next in the new Ferrari, with a best of 1m19.708s after 149 laps. It seems, on the surface therefore that the two leading teams of last year are pretty well-matched again.

Fourth fastest thus far is Nico Rosberg in the Williams FW29B, with a best lap of 1m19.755s and a total of 128 laps. This suggests that Williams has made progress with the interim car and it is likely that the new car will be quicker still when it appears for the first time next week.

Next up was Felipe Massa in his new Ferrari with 129 laps and a best of 1m19.772s with Heikki Kovalainen in a new McLaren right there too with a total of 180 laps and a best of 1m19.780s.

The times of the frontrunners are remarkably close, which bodes well for the future.

There is then a sizeable gap back to the two Toro Rosso STR2s for Sebastian Vettel and Sebastian Bourdais. They were closely matched with the German doing 127 laps with a best of 1m20.305s and the Frenchman 124 laps with a best of 1m20.346s. They were both able to outpace the Red Bull RB3 of Mark Webber, which clocked 1m20.392s after 80 laps. The new RB4 is due to appear today and the team hopes this will move the team up into the leading group of cars and ahead of the Tori Rossi.

Kazuki Nakajima lapped his Williams FW29B with a best of 1m20.525s, after a total of 110 laps while the new Toyota did 167 laps in the hands of Timo Glock and recorded a best of 1m20.598s. This suggests that there still a way to go for the Cologne team.

Giancarlo Fisichella was next up in the latest version of the Force India which completed 76 laps with a best of 1m20.764s.

Others to appear on the first day of the test - which was disrupted by rain - were Kamui Kobayashi (Toyota TF107), David Coulthard (Red Bull RB3), Jarno Trulli (Toyota TF108), Nelson Piquet Jr (Renault R27), Tonio Liuzzi (Force India) and James Rossiter (Super Aguri) but their times were not representative of their real pace because of the changing conditions.

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Stories: JANUARY 16, 2008
MEANWHILE IN JEREZ