28 Feb 2008

Barcelona day three - Trulli in charge on final day

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 27 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB4 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 27 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 27 February 2008. World © Moy/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01 and Colin Kolles (GER) Force India F1 Team Principal Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 27 February 2008. World © Moy/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 27 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was the quickest runner during the last day of testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday. Trulli clocked a best time of 1m 20.801s around the Spanish circuit as he carried out a qualifying run. The Italian finished over four-tenths of a second ahead of the second-placed Red Bull of David Coulthard.

Trulli and team mate Timo Glock, 11th, worked on fine-tuning set-ups and completing their preparations for March’s Australian Grand Prix. In comparison to Trulli’s day, however, Glock’s was much more disrupted.

“Today was a frustrating day for me,” he explained. “I didn’t find a way to set up the car to my driving style and the pace suffered as a result. It’s strange that on the first morning we had okay pace then it’s been dropping off during the week. Perhaps the problem is the hard tyre but we will have to analyse all the data. At the moment it doesn’t bode well for Australia but we have a couple of weeks to turn things around.”

Coulthard, back in action after resting on Tuesday to have treatment for a trapped nerve, was joined by Red Bull team mate Mark Webber, who finished in fifth in the second RB4. Coulthard ran with the latest aerodynamic updates on the car, while Webber concentrated on fine-tuning the package prior to Melbourne.

“This was the last test session until after the Bahrain Grand Prix and in many ways, for those of us on the test team, it feels like the end of a season that has run pretty much non-stop since the end of last year,” said Red Bull's chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. “The result of all the hard work is that the cars go to Australia having completed a high mileage, showing good reliability and what seems like an encouraging level of performance.”

Williams’ FW30 continued to impress with Nico Rosberg ending the day in third and Kazuki Nakajima taking eighth. Rosberg covered 77 laps, while Nakajima completed a mammoth 124 around the Spanish track. Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest McLaren runner in fourth, with team mate Lewis Hamilton finishing 10th. Kovalainen completed 87 laps, while Hamilton covered 103.

“Both the test and race teams were present in Barcelona, with the latter completing their process of familiarisation with the MP4-23,” explained McLaren's Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh. “This included race simulations, qualifying runs and pit stop practices as we make our final preparations for the start of the 2008 season."

Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jr, sixth, and Fernando Alonso, seventh, were by far the most productive pairing in action, covering just under 250 laps in total. Both Alonso and Piquet completed set-up programmes in the morning and then long runs in the afternoon.

“We had a large programme to complete over the three days, and we were quite ambitious with what we were working on,” said Christian Silk, Renault's chief test engineer. “Between now and the first race we need to tidy up the cars as much as possible; get all the new parts on the cars that we have looked at during testing to get them into race specification.”

Ninth fastest was Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari, while team mate Felipe Massa finished in 13th. Massa worked on set-up, using up the remaining kilometres of the engine life in his car to complete 49 laps. Raikkonen completed a race simulation despite several interruptions caused by red flags. Ferrari will be back in action at the Italian track of Fiorano, when tester Luca Badoer will shakedown the cars to be used in Melbourne.

Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella took up 12th slot. Fisichella’s team mate Adrian Sutil, meanwhile, finished in 16th in the second VJM01. The team continued their simulation of a race weekend, with set up and qualifying work in the morning and long race-distance runs in the afternoon.

“A reasonable end to the test, although we did have slightly more problems than on the other two days,” explained the team's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “Our main aim was to do a full race distance with both cars, which we managed to achieve in the end despite the red flags and an exhaust problem on Giancarlo's car. Overall the race pace was very good, particularly Giancarlo's, and was competitive over the three days.”

With Nick Heidfeld finishing down in 17th, BMW Sauber’s fastest driver of the day was Robert Kubica in 14th. Heidfeld and Kubica worked on the set-up of the F1.08, evaluating the latest aerodynamic updates for the Melbourne race and covered over 150 laps.

Toro Rosso once again fielded just one driver, Sebastien Bourdais, who eventually finished in 15th. Despite only having one car in action over the three-day test, the Italian squad completed around 1500 kilometres.

“The reason for the high mileage is that we did around a race distance each day and today, we again concentrated on race weekend procedures, which will be new to Sebastien when we get to Melbourne,” explained chief engineer Laurent Mekies. “Also on today’s agenda was fine tuning of the gearbox control systems.”

Honda’s Jenson Button and tester Alexander Wurz completed Wednesday’s line-up in 18th and 19th respectively. Button and Wurz spent the morning working on the set-up and handling of the RA108, alongside a race start programme, before working through a further race simulation exercise in the afternoon. The team have a private three-day test planned at Jerez next week.

With the final multi-team test of the winter now over, most teams will return to their factories to finalise their preparations for the Australian Grand Prix, which will take place in Melbourne from 14-16 March.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Barcelona:
1. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:20.801
2. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:21.258
3. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.293
4. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:21.309
5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.368
6. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:21.443
7. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:21.454
8. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.796
9. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:21.933
10. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.011
11. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:22.155
12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:22.233
13. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.286
14. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:22.299
15. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:22.465
16. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:22.521
17. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:22.624
18. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:23.754
19. Alexander Wurz, Honda, 1:24.154