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Felipe Massa topped the timesheets at Barcelona today, as Renault, Toro Rosso, Toyota and Honda, joined in the fun.
On a day when all thirteen drivers were running with V8s, the Brazilian, at the wheel of a 2004 Ferrari, posted a best time 0.536s quicker than his nearest rival, Fernando Alonso. The Brazilian carried out an engine development programme, in collaboration with Shell and also worked on Bridgestone tyres.
In the early afternoon a Ferrari transporter arrived from Italy, inside, the new 248 F1, which Michael Schumacher is to run tomorrow (Thursday).
Renault began three days of testing at the Spanish track, with Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella in action, both at the wheel of the new R26 chassis.
The day got off to a slow start owing to very cold track temperatures during the early morning. This made running impossible as the tyres were not generating sufficient temperature. Both drivers were able to begin their programmes at around 11am, and then worked without major incident throughout the day. The focus for today's testing was primarily on continuing to put mileage on the new chassis and RS26 V8 engine. In addition to this base-line work, both drivers conducted tyre development for Michelin, completing medium distance (less than 10 laps) runs.
Fernando and Giancarlo finished the day second and fourth respectively on the timesheets. They completed 178 laps, a total of 824 km.
"I did 94 laps today, which is very good for a new car," said the Spaniard. "The important thing for this early stage is that we had no mechanical problems, so I am quite happy with our results so far. I was still experimenting a bit today because this is the first time I have driven at Barcelona with the V8, so you need some time to get used to the different driving style. The car is easy to drive here as well, and my feeling so far is very good."
"We had a good day, with lots of laps and no big problems," added his teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella. "The main job today was working on tyres and we completed a big programme with Michelin. Overall, it was a good day for us."
"This was a very good opening day of our test," said Christian Silk. "The programme got off to a slow start, but once the circuit had warmed up properly, we were able to run a big programme. The main focus of the day was tyre development, and we got some excellent results for Michelin from our work on compounds and constructions. We will be hoping to continue in a similar fashion tomorrow."
Splitting the two French cars was Jenson Button, in the brand new Honda RA106. Although over a second down on Massa, Button was just 0.4s down on Alonso. Furthermore, the Englishman had a trouble-free day, completing 72 laps, though the day was somewhat marred by a technical failure for teammate Barrichello.
In the morning, Rubens completed a series of acclimatisation runs to get a basic feel for the new car and its characteristics. He continued to work on the general set-up of the car throughout the day completing a total of 52 laps.
In the second chassis, Jenson also completed two runs getting used to the car. Once happy with the balance he ran through a tyre evaluation during the afternoon session.
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