26 Feb 2008

Barcelona day one - Hamilton pips Ferrari duo in Spain

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 25 February 2008. World © Moy/Sutton Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari is interviewed. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 25 February 2008. World © Moy/Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 25 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF108 Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 25 February 2008. World © Moy/Sutton Alex Wurz (AUT) Honda. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 25 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton

Ferrari and McLaren resumed their pre-season testing battle on Monday as the final multi-team session got underway at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. McLaren had the edge, with Lewis Hamilton clocking the best time, a 1m 22.276s, to move ahead of the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher.

Despite a damp start to the day’s running, Hamilton covered 78 laps in the MP4-23. He was joined by team mate Heikki Kovalainen who finished in fifth and completed 71 laps. The duo carried out final evaluations of several new components and continued to fine tune set-ups for the start of the season.

Second-placed Raikkonen was joined on track by former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher, third. Raikkonen, who missed last week’s test at the track, covered 82 laps. Retired Schumacher, meanwhile, completed 83. Both ran in the F2008, complete with the Italian team’s latest aerodynamic updates.

Williams continued to impress, with Kazuki Nakajima taking fourth slot and Nico Rosberg finishing in sixth. The duo covered over 150 laps as they continued to carry out set-up work and engine system checks.

Nick Heidfeld led the BMW Sauber line-up in eighth, with team tester Christian Klien 14th. It was the first time Klien had driven the squad’s F1.08 in dry conditions and he covered 42 laps as he carried out system checks and basic set-up work. Heidfeld, who completed 75 laps, will be joined by team mate Robert Kubica on Tuesday.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso just missed out on making it under the 1m 23s mark and ended the session seventh. Team mate Nelson Piquet Jr, meanwhile, took up 15th spot. The French team ran through a race simulation in the morning before switching to pit-stop practice in the afternoon.

“It was important to do this to get everybody ready for the first race in Australia," explained Alonso. "The track was wet in the morning, just like last week, but it did not affect what we were working on and we are happy with the work we completed.”

Force India’s new VJM01 enjoyed a successful track debut with Adrian Sutil finishing in ninth and Vitantonio Liuzzi 12th. Mark Webber was the fastest driver for Red Bull in 10th, while team mate David Coulthard finished down in 19th. Both drivers followed a similar programme, focusing on mechanical set-up, brake development work and general pre-race preparation.

The 11th-fastest driver was Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso. With the second race car busy being prepared back at the Italian team’s Faenza factory, Vettel was their only driver. He covered 95 laps as he carried out long runs. In the afternoon the German attempted a race simulation, but was forced to abandon it after his STR2 suffered a mechanical problem.

The fastest Toyota driver was 13th-placed Timo Glock, while team tester Kamui Kobayashi finished in 16th. Glock completed 70 laps as he worked on the TF108’s mechanical set-up but Kobayashi’s mileage was restricted to preserve mileage and tyres.

“Today again started in conditions that are very difficult for testing because the track was constantly changing through the morning and it’s very difficult to do comparisons,” said Pascal Vasselon, Toyota's senior general chassis manager. “So we waited until the beginning of the afternoon to start work on mechanical set-up, which we tried to refine on both cars in preparation for aerodynamics testing tomorrow.”

Completing Monday’s line-up were Honda’s Rubens Barrichello, 17th, and Alexander Wurz, 18th. Barrichello and Wurz both completed a qualifying programme in the morning before carrying out a full race simulation in the afternoon. The pair covered over 200 laps in the RA108.

Better weather conditions are expected on Tuesday, when testing continues at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Unofficial Monday times from Barcelona:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.276
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:22.319
3. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 1:22.428
4. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:22.724
5. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:22.852
6. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:22.974
7. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:23.021
8. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:23.075
9. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:23.091
10. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.115
11. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:23.188
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:23.239
13. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:23.270
14. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 1:23.442
15. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:23.609
16. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:23.880
17. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:24.660
18. Alexander Wurz, Honda, 1:24.667
19. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:24.826