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Schumacher continues to set blistering pace at Jerez

NEWS STORY
12/10/2006

Michael Schumacher continued to set a blistering pace at Jerez today, the final day of testing for Ferrari prior to its head-to-head with Renault at Interlagos, and possibly the last ever F1 test for the German multiple World Champion.

The German was once again joined today by Luca Badoer, with the Italian working on development of new components aimed at next season, while Michael continued to evaluate Bridgestone tyres for the Brazilian Grand Prix, in addition to finding the best set-up for the 248 F1.

Schumacher's best time of 1.15.684 is just 0.055s off the record of 1.15.629 he set on the 30th of September 2004.

Second quickest, albeit 1.127s off Schumacher's pace, was Lewis Hamilton, who, along with Pedro de la Rosa, continued McLaren's development programme. However, whereas the Spaniard focussed on preparations for Brazil, concentrating on tyre evaluations, the English youngster focussed on a development programme for next season.

"Another productive session this week," said Martin Whitmarsh. "Both drivers worked through final Brazil tyre evaluation with Michelin alongside various developments programmes for our 2007 car the MP4-22. There have been a few red flag stoppages during the week but that aside the clear and hot weather conditions have allowed us to cover good mileage and we have gained some positive intelligence about the MP4-22 package. Despite spending some time in the garage whilst the team worked on a minor oil leak, Pedro managed to successfully complete his scheduled programme. Although this is the final in-season allocated test day, the team will continue to push hard with several straight line tests and other work focused towards 2007 in the coming weeks. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the test team for their hard work over the past season."

Once again, Robert Kubica was BMW's sole representative, the Pole alternating between two cars. The priority today was to use Chassis 06 as much as possible and Kubica continued with the transmission development work begun on Wednesday.

He also did some set-up work and ran the Interlagos tyres, which was to confirm the team's decision on the compounds they had already chosen to take to Interlagos.
The Pole did longer runs in the afternoon and also completed damper testing. The work with Chassis 07 was systems and starts in the morning and brake materials in the afternoon.

Originally the plan was for Kubica to finish his work today and for Nick Heidfeld to be the only driver on Friday. However, as this will be the final test for quite a long time, it has been decided that the Pole will now stay on and join the German, so both cars can be run all day.

The work for the final day of the test will be to complete the various programmes that have been running over the past two days.

The team is said to be happy with its preparations for Brazil, where it hopes to retain fifth place in the Constructors' Championship.

Toyota completed its final test of the 2006 season, with Ricardo Zonta making his last appearance for the Japanese team before heading to Renault.

"Overall we can be happy with this week's test," said test team manager, Gerd Pfeiffer. "Today's running was not as smooth as yesterday, because we lost time with Ricardo's car due to an engine change. Nevertheless, Olivier was quite busy with the tyre testing for Brazil."

"Today was a challenging last day for me," admitted Zonta. "We had planned to do a lot of long runs for the Brazilian race tyre choice. Unfortunately we lost some valuable time when my engine needed to be changed. In the end, we still got some running in and I think the team can make a good choice.

"This being my last day it is difficult to leave a team that I have worked with a long time and who have treated me so well. Looking back, we have had quite a busy and difficult season, focusing on the tyres and developing the car to improve on our results. The team was always motivated to keep moving ahead. I have always felt welcome here and I will miss everyone that I have worked with."

"I am happy with today's running and our results," added Olivier Panis, who will continue with the Japanese team until the end of the year. "We worked mainly on tyres and set-up preparations for Interlagos. I was able to drive over 90 laps and collected some good data on the tyres for this race. I think we can be confident for the last race and still vie for 5th place.

"The team has worked hard and it would be great to end the season on a high note," he added.

Propping up the timesheets was the WilliamsF1 duo of Alexander Wurz and Narain Karthikeyan, as the Grove team continued with the Toyota powerplant.

"Narain carried out a series of set-up comparisons on the interim FW28B car," revealed test team manager, Mike Condliffe. "He then tested front wing assemblies before moving on to a tyre test.

"Alex continued working on the engine with Toyota, and then carried out suspension modifications and compound tests in the afternoon. We have made good progress with the new engine and gearbox combination and will continue here tomorrow."

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