Ferraris Felipe Massa pushed Toyota off the top spot during the third and final day of testing at Silverstone on Thursday. Massa clocked a quickest lap of 1m20.805s around the British circuit, finishing over four-tenths faster than the second-placed Williams of Nico Rosberg.
Aside from a slight shower at midday, conditions were dry and sunny and Massa was able to cover a total of 87 laps. The Brazilian experimented with a variety of new aerodynamic and mechanical solutions, as Ferrari attempt to glean more pace from the F2007. The team return to Italy this week and will shakedown the two cars they plan to use at the French Grand Prix on June 27 at Fiorano, with tester Luca Badoer behind the wheel.
Rosberg, meanwhile, was charged with picking up where Williams team mate Alexander Wurz had left off on Wednesday. The young German continued to evaluate the FW29s aero updates and completed 98 laps. Rosberg will now head to Iceland for a promotional event.
Third fastest on Thursday was McLarens Fernando Alonso, who took over driving duties from tester Pedro de la Rosa. Alonso continued to focus on aero updates, but also carried out some tyre work and general set-up adjustments. He covered 58 laps, even though an oil system problem caused a slight delay.
Renault tester Nelson Piquet Jr finished up fourth after a busy day. Piquet was the most productive man on track and was the only driver to complete more than 100 laps. He initially worked on finding a good balance in the R27 before conducting a series of tyre tests.
I was really pleased to be driving today, because I really enjoy this circuit and I have always felt good here, he explained. I hadn't driven since the last test in Paul Ricard, and was excited about this week, and the car was handling well - better than I expected to be honest. We made good progress with our programme, and collected interesting data which confirms Heikki's (Kovalainen) work earlier in the week. That's a positive sign.
Wednesday pacesetter, Toyota's Jarno Trulli, settled for fifth slot on Thursday. Trulli covered 70 laps in the TF107, as he conducted tyre comparisons, system evaluations and suspension tests. The Italian was just over two-tenths quicker than David Coulthard, sixth for Red Bull. The Scot assessed the teams new aero package and some suspension changes.
In seventh was BMW Sauber tester Timo Glock, who wrapped up the German-Swiss teams programme over 71 laps. Glock tested tyres, suspension parts and some aero changes. Over half a second down on the German was Toro Rossos Scott Speed, who finished eighth. Speed covered 65 laps, despite a failure in his STR2's power train.
We did our homework on various solutions; some paid off and some didn't, explained Toro Rosso technical director, Giorgio Ascanelli. Until this afternoon, general reliability seems good, as we managed to put the equivalent of three race distances on the same quick-shift gearbox. And in performance terms, it seems better too. So to sum up, these three days have allowed us to sign off new steering and suspension components and the quick shift box for the French Grand Prix.
At the back of the field were the Spyker drivers Christijan Albers and Giedo van der Garde, ninth and tenth respectively. Albers covered 35 laps in the morning, working on brakes, before an electrical problem halted his running. Tester Van der Garde took over the car in the afternoon but span into the gravel on his first run. The team quickly fixed the damaged front suspension and sent Albers back out for few more laps.
With next weekends French Grand Prix looming, most teams will now return to their respective factories to continue preparations.
Unofficial Thursday times from Silverstone:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.805
2. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.274
3. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:21.284
4. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:21.357
5. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:21.703
6. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:21.933
7. Timo Glock, BMW Sauber, 1:22.456
8. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:23.049
9. Christijan Albers, Spyker, 1:23.374
10. Giedo van der Garde, Spyker, 1:25.865