McLaren-Mercedes third driver, Pedro de la Rosa set the pace in sweltering conditions at Jerez on Tuesday, as Formula 1 descended on the venue for the latest three-day test.

The Spaniard completed 71 laps in total in the McLaren MP4-22 and was easily quickest, his best a 1 minute 20.111 seconds, around a second up on Franck Montagny, who was next up for Toyota.

Pedro's programme during the morning focused on set-up and aerodynamic work for the Hungarian Grand Prix. During the afternoon, all the teams spent some time preparing for the regulation changes for the 2008 season, with the cars running without traction control.

Montagny meanwhile, like de la Rosa, also notched up around 70-odd laps and he spent the day concentrating on brakes, systems and starts. Ralf Schumacher will take over at the wheel of the Toyota TF107 on Wednesday.

"Apart from shakedowns and straight line tests this is the first time that I have driven this car for over two months," said the Frenchman. "But I've trained hard in the meantime so it didn't feel any different to usual, even despite the extreme heat today, so that is good.

"We spent much of the day running without traction control in preparation for 2008. That meant the car was sliding a lot but we put in some useful laps and found a good direction to take.

"This week we are also working on improving our start procedure along with brakes and other systems. So it was a good day and we're getting there. We've already changed the car a lot and I'm happy with it and confident that progress can continue."

Toyota test team manager, Gerd Pfeiffer was delighted they were able to get in some dry running: "Following the weather disruptions we have faced at recent tests at Silverstone and Spa it is a relief to have a week where we can expect hot, sunny conditions throughout," he continued.

"Today Franck had a range of items to test in his programme. One of the main areas we worked on was brake testing but he also did some work on starts and other systems along with some runs without traction control. It was a productive day and we made it through our planned programme without problems."

Kazuki Nakajimi was third for Williams, three tenths off Montagny. The Japanese driver did 104 tours in total in the Toyota-powered FW29, the most of any one runner.

"We had a trouble free day today doing set-up work prior to the next race in Budapest," noted Williams test team manager, Dickie Standford. "There were no problems with the car and we will carry on with our test programme with Kazuki tomorrow."

Of the rest, James Rossiter came in fourth, as Super Aguri once again showed up the 'works' Honda team, with Christian Klien forced to settle for fifth, four tenths slower. Rossiter spent the day evaluating the Bridgestone tyres in the hot conditions to prepare for the high temperatures usually experienced at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He also ran through initial set-up work and longer tyre runs.

Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr was sixth and his primary objective for the day was to put mileage on the low downforce package to be used at the Italian Grand Prix in September. During the afternoon, he conducted a short, basic set-up programme but as is usual during the hottest part of the day, his lap-times where significantly slower than in the cooler morning conditions.

"The main goal for today was to put the necessary mileage on the parts for Monza, and we managed to do so," he explained.

"As usual on day one of the test, the circuit conditions were quite poor, and the track was rubbering-in all the way through the day, making it hard to get a good feel for how the car was handling. I am driving again on Thursday, by which time the conditions and car balance should have improved a lot."

"We planned quite a limited programme for our opening day of testing, given that circuit conditions are usually poor and that we have to count our mileage very carefully under this year's testing mileage restrictions," added Renault's chief test engineer, Christian Silk. "Nelsinho completed the necessary running to approve the Monza aero package, and then conducted a short set-up programme.

"Heikki [Kovalainen] will be driving tomorrow, when we will begin running with our latest aerodynamic developments in order to optimise the set-up of the car for the next two races."

The only other runner on track was Sebastien Buemi, who was in action for Red Bull Racing and standing in for Michael Ammermuller, who has a wrist injury.

Once he had gone through the usual procedure of getting comfortable in the cockpit, the day's programme concentrating on aero testing and set-up work. In the end he did 78 laps as the team looks to get him the necessary mileage to qualify for his superlicence. Mark Webber will take over from the Red Bull Junior man on Wednesday.

"I have driven the F1 car before, but only in a straight line, so this was the first time I have experienced corners as well," said the 18-year-old. "The power out of the turns feels good but the most impressive elements of the package are the way the car goes through the quick corners, which is so much better than anything else I've experienced. I also enjoyed the speed with which the car can change direction and the power of the brakes. Towards the end of the day, my neck was beginning to get a bit sore, which I guess is normal, but I'm sure it will be fine by Thursday when I hope to have another run in the car."

Testing now continues on Wednesday, with BMW Sauber set to join the fold for the final two days. Robert Kubica is due to run in the F1.07.

Testing times (24 July) - Jerez:

1. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1min 20.111secs 71 laps
2 Franck Montagny Toyota-Toyota 1min 21.136secs 73 laps
3. Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1min 21.424secs 104 laps
4. James Rossiter Super Aguri-Honda 1min 21.682secs 92 laps
5. Christian Klien Honda-Honda 1min 22.035secs 70 laps
6. Nelson Piquet Jr Renault-Renault 1min 22.537secs 68 laps
7. Sebastien Buemi Red Bull-Renault 1min 22.565secs 78 laps

all times unofficial - courtesy Renault

Track/weather conditions: Hot and sunny all day. Track temperature, 57.8?C / Ambient temperature, 33.8?C.

 

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