McLaren headed into the summer testing break by topping the final day of running at the Circuito de Jerez on Friday, where Pedro de la Rosa set the pace.

The Spaniard, driving on home soil, took over from where Juan Montoya had left off on day two, despite a gearbox having to be changed over during lunch. Interruptions aside, de la Rosa carried out general set-up work in the morning session, before switching his attention to an evaluation of the prime tyre option to be used at Hockenheim in the afternoon. Despite the gearbox glitch, he was still able to complete a series of longer runs late in the day to complete the planned programme.

"It was a productive day of testing, despite the delay earlier this afternoon," de la Rosa reported, "I was concentrating on set-up work in the morning, before moving onto the Michelin programme in the afternoon. I completed several long stints and we will now sit down with the engineers to evaluate the information and select tyres for the forthcoming grands prix."

The Spaniard's fastest lap - a 1min 16.919secs that was some seven-tenths from Montoya's best - was good enough to head second-placed Nick Heidfeld by a handful of tenths, after the German concluded a three-day test with a number of positive developments and resolutions regarding the aero issues that compromised the Williams-BMW team's showings in last two grands prix. The team also validated further new aero components due for introduction at Hockenheim.

"We continued testing using the FW27A chassis, which Nick ran all day, as Antonio [Pizzonia] finished the V8-engined FW27B programme early yesterday," technical director Sam Michael commented, "Nick spent the whole day working on mechanical and aerodynamic set-ups, which included some quite different spring and roll bar settings.

"It has been a productive test on the FW27A, which has confirmed many different items over the last three days. We have made some good progress, which is evident in the lap times. The test team has done a great job over the course of the test, despite the demanding conditions, and we're looking forward to Hockenheim now."

Toyota's Ricardo Zonta was third fastest on the day, as the Cologne-based team continued to test with three cars. While Ralf Schumacher and Olivier Panis were much further down the order, however, Zonta posted a best lap close to beating Heidfeld's best, and good enough to edge out the second McLaren of Alex Wurz.

Wurz, in action for the third consecutive day, continued to assess the prime and option Michelins for Germany, and also ran a new front wing package on his chassis throughout the day. The Austrian switched chassis to drive the one that Montoya had been driving earlier in the week, as the spare car will be set up for the Colombian at Hockenheim and Wurz, as designated third driver for the event, wanted the opportunity to acclimatise to his set up.

"I have covered a significant amount of miles over the past three days, mainly concentrating on assessing the prime and option tyre choices for the German Grand Prix," the Austrian confirmed, "The hot conditions we have experienced here over the three days should be similar to those at both Hockenheim and Hungary."

Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson sandwiched the Renault of Franck Montagny in a nominal sixth position, but the BAR team also ran a third car for Enrique Bernoldi, although, like Toyota, it was careful not to violate the letter of the self-imposed testing laws by ensuring only two machines were on track at any one time.

Taku continued his tyre programme, completing a total of 118 laps, but was rudely interrupted by an engine failure mid-morning, which stopped him out on the circuit after 32 laps.

"We covered a lot of mileage, in which I focused mainly on engine work and tyre programmes," the Japanese driver said, "We did the Hockenheim and Budapest tyre evaluations in one day, so it was a very big test and the data was positive. We have had some small problems, but they are not major."

Davidson continued the evaluation of new aerodynamic developments in the various configurations which Button ran through on day two. He also completed some chassis set-up work, completing 120 laps.

"We finished our aero evaluation, with some noticeable results, and then moved onto suspension development," the Briton revealed, "I also did a traction control evaluation, but we ran standard tyres all day as Takuma was focusing on the evaluations for the next few races."

Montagny was joined on track by fellow Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen.

Having been in the top three overall on Thursday, Sauber spent the final day of pre-break testing running Jacques Villeneuve in a rebuilt car, after Felipe Massa had shunted heavily towards the end of his stint.

"We had a good morning session and could achieve a reasonably quick lap time," test engineer Paul Russell reported, "The car was fast immediately, which enabled us to start with the scheduled programme straightaway. This afternoon, we worked with Michelin and finished the tyre selection process for the forthcoming races, while also managing some long runs and conducting further aerodynamic tests. Overall, considering the happenings the last days, we got quite a lot done. For us, this was the final high downforce test this season and it was a productive."

Red Bull Racing continued to run two cars at the test, but welcomed back Vitantonio Liuzzi, who took over from Christian Klien alongside David Coulthard. The pair managed to out-pace Ralf Schumacher on the final day, and left Bernoldi and Panis to bring up the rear of the timesheet. The Brazilian completed 59 laps as he ran a development BAR fitted with 2006 systems.

"We went out on old tyres, so it was not really representative of a normal testing evaluation, but it was good to get the data needed for the team," Bernoldi confirmed.

Panis, meanwhile, continued to run Toyota's 2006-spec V8 engine which, given his position in the final order, he admitted felt slower than the V10 had been used to previously.

"It was a very interesting test - and made a good change from tyre testing - but my first impression, not surprisingly, was that it was quite a bit slower than the V10," he confirmed, "You notice that the acceleration is not as strong and that the g-forces in the corners are less. But, when you consider that the engine has around 200bhp less than a V10, that is to be expected and will be the same for everyone. It even makes old men like me think about re-launching an F1 racing career!"

"The vibration was much less than I expected. You always get more vibration with an eight-cylinder engine but, by the third day, the driveability was actually very good and I did 35 laps in the morning as part of longer runs that we had scheduled. I have to say, I am very impressed with the engine guys at Toyota."

Leading times (15 July) - Jerez:

Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1m 16.908s 66 laps Nick Heidfeld Williams-BMW 1m 17.237s 80 laps
Ricardo Zonta Toyota-Toyota 1m 17.263s 131 laps Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m 17.344s 120 laps Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1m 17.356s 117 laps Franck Montagny Renault-Renault 1m 17.369s 143 lapsAnthony Davidson BAR-Honda 1m 17.547s 120 laps Jacques Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas 1m 17.593s 95 laps Heikki Kovalainen Renault-Renault 1m 17.656s 90 laps
David Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth 1m 17.848s 51 laps
Vitantonio Liuzzi Red Bull-Cosworth 1m 18.192s 79 lapsRalf Schumacher Toyota-Toyota 1m 18.945s 48 laps

Enrique Bernoldi BAR-Honda 1m 21.189s 58 laps Olivier Panis Toyota-Toyota 1m 21.307s 46 laps

[all cars on Michelin tyres]

Weather/track conditions: Sunny, hot

All times unofficial - courtesy of Sauber

 

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