With Michael Schumacher having taken most of the headlines on the opening two days of testing at Catalunya, it was left to Renault's Heikki Kovalainen to hit top spot in the former world champion's absence as the first post-season Formula 1 test drew to a close in Spain.

The Finn posted a time of 1min 20.659secs - the fastest seen all week at the circuit near Barcelona - as he spent most of the day testing the reliability of the new standard ECU that all teams will be forced to use next season.

Despite a mechanical incident that was quickly remedied by the team, Kovalainen was able to teat a number of set-ups on his R27, again running without traction control or EBS, and he was happy with how proceedings had panned out.

"Today, we finished off our three-day test session, which has been very positive in my opinion. The car handled well right from the start. We've worked on the new ECU and we've kept progressing over the three days. We've been competitive whatever the track conditions, and we've shown how determined Renault is to fight its way back to the front in 2008. I think it's a very important first step in our development programme for next season. Even if we know there are a number of areas where we can still progress, we've already done a great job this week."

While Schumacher may have completed his two days of running for Ferrari, the Scuderia remained near the top of the timesheets as race driver Felipe Massa took over from the German. His best time of 1min 21.044secs was quicker than Schumacher managed on both days at the wheel, although this time it wasn't good enough to give the Italian team top spot.

Franck Montagny was third fastest for Toyota on what was his final outing with the team before he moves on to pastures new (See separate story here) while youngster Sebastian Vettel was an encouraging fourth for Toro Rosso. Like quickest man Kovalainen, Vettel was running a car fitting with the new 2008 ECU and he also worked on a series of suspension settings over the course of the day.

David Coulthard for Red Bull Racing was fifth as he continued to work on aero and mechanical set-up, based on developments aimed at the 2008 regulations. Luca Badoer in the second Ferrari completed the top six.

McLaren continued to run test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett, although neither driver completed much in terms of running to ensure that the team is able to complete plenty of mileage in the final test of the year at Jerez.

Of the two, de la Rosa finished the day higher on the time-sheets in seventh place, while Paffett was two places further back in ninth - both focusing on preparing for the 2008 season and adapting to running without the driver aids that will no longer be allowed under the regulations next year.

Between the McLaren pair, Nico Rosberg was eighth for Williams as he completed various system checks for the Grove based outfit while Champ Car World Series title winner Sebastien Bourdais was ninth for Toro Rosso running a 2007-spec car with the traction control and engine braking turned off.

BMW Sauber pairing Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica completed the final day in eleventh and twelfth place with development work for the pair again focusing on the standard 2008 ECU and the testing of new mechanical parts for next season. Kazuki Nakajima was next up for Williams, with his programme for the day being similar to that of team-mate Rosberg.

"Our last day in Barcelona delivered another productive session for Nico and Kazuki, with Kazuki covering considerable mileage despite numerous red flags," test team manager Dickie Stanford said. "The pair finalised systems checks to complete our scheduled development work for this week. Jerez will be our next destination in the first week of December for the final test of the year."

Jarno Trulli wasn't quite able to match the pace of Toyota team-mate Montagny as he elected to complete only limited mileage - the team having one eye on the annual 30,000km testing limit and also wanting to make a series of adjustments to his car ahead of the final day in Barcelona.

Only completing installation laps during the morning, it was left to the afternoon for Trulli to complete any meaningful mileage as he completed a series of runs focused on set-up using 2007 electronics but no traction control.

"I think today went well," the Italian reflected. "We did everything we had planned in our programme. Everybody can see we have not done a lot of laps each day this week because we are a bit limited on the mileage. But we managed to do a lot of good work and we got a lot of interesting information from our set-up work so we have a better understanding of several areas which will be very helpful for the 2008 car. It has been a good test and I am pleased with the work we have done."

The newly named Force India team enjoyed its best day of the week as Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi lifted the former Spyker-squad off the bottom of the timesheets for the first time.

Klien was 15th fastest, just 0.020secs behind Trulli while Liuzzi was 17th despite a problem during the afternoon that affected the drivability of his car.

"Once again a productive day to conclude a positive week of testing for us," chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said. "Both Christian and Tonio did a very good job for us, with interesting and informative feedback on the electronics and general set-up of the car. We had no real mechanical problems throughout the day and in general this week, with testing new items and drivers, has had a very positive effect on the team. Overall very good and we look forward to continuing our work in Jerez."

Between the two Force India newcomers, Jenson Button completed a second day of running for Honda as he evaluated the new electronics system in place on his RA107, continuing the work started earlier in the week.

"It was a pleasure to be back driving again this week and starting our on-track preparations for the new season," the Brit enthused. "This was the first time that I've driven the car with the new electronics system and it is a great feeling that you are properly in control of the car without having driver aids such as traction control. This suits my driving style so I am pretty happy with the changes to the regulations.

"Our focus this week was on putting mileage on the new electronics system, addressing any issues caused by its introduction and working out the optimum set-up on the car. It was a good two days and we were able to run reliably which is pleasing."

Following in the footsteps of Andi Zuber and Luca Filippi earlier in the week, Mike Conway became the third member of the Honda Young Driver Programme to hit the track as the 2006 British F3 champion as the Brackley-based squad gave the trio the chance to show they can help the team during further testing work.

Conway completed 72 laps during the day and ended up just six tenths of a second behind Button, the 24-year-old stating afterwards that he hoped there will be further chances to test F1 machinery in the future.

"I had a really good day today," he said. "I settled into the car quickly and felt comfortable with the seat and the positioning which was good as it enabled us to concentrate on finding time right from the start. I felt that we were able to make progress throughout the day and found some good time when we ran with new tyres. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Honda for a great day and I hope there is more to come in the future."

Honda tester James Rossiter switched over to Super Aguri for the final day of the test, the Briton working on development of the 2008 control system as well as brake and aero evaluations while Robert Doornbos was the final runner in 20th for Red Bull, the Dutchman taking over from Karun Chandhok and focussing his day on working with the new ECU.

The next test starts in Jerez on 4 December.

Testing times (15 November) - Barcelona:

1. Heikki KovalainenRenault-Renault 1min 20.659secs 82 laps
2. Felipe MassaFerrari-Ferrari 1min 21.044secs 92 laps
3. Franck Montagny Toyota-Toyota 1min 21.363secs 85 laps
4. Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari1min 21.486secs 67 laps
5. David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1min 21.555secs 82 laps
6. Luca Badoer Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 21.741secs 74 laps
7. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1min 21.805secs 33 laps
8. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1min 21.820secs 69 laps
9. Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1min 21.939secs 84 laps
10. Gary Paffett McLaren-Mercedes 1min 22.070secs 31 laps
11. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1min 22.460secs 53 laps
12. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1min 22.706secs 52 laps
13. Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1min 23.039secs 126 laps
14. Jarno Trulli Toyota-Toyota 1min 23.064secs 52 laps
15. Christian Klien Force India-Ferrari 1min 23.084secs 83 laps
16. Jenson Button Honda-Honda 1min 23.118secs 96 laps
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Ferrari 1min 23.206secs 92 laps
18. Mike Conway Honda-Honda 1min 23.729secs 72 laps
19. James Rossiter Super Aguri-Honda 1min 23.931secs 61 laps
20. Robert Doornbos Red Bull-Renault 1min 24.102secs 61 laps

All times unofficial - courtesy of McLaren

Track / weather conditions: Overcast during the morning, with sunny spells during the afternoon. Track temperature, 24.4?C / Ambient temperature, 15.7?C.

Comparative lap times:

Spanish GP 2007:

Pole position: Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 21.421secs [Q3] / 1min 20.597secs [Q2] / 1min 21.375secs [Q1]Fastest lap: Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 22.680secs

 

Comments

Loading Comments...