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Ferrari sets the pace at Barcelona

NEWS STORY
13/02/2007

If today's times were anything to go by, which they are probably not, we might just be getting the merest glimpse of how the opening stages of the World Championship might play out.

Yes, there are still many variables, but based on today's times, the laps covered and performance we can begin to see a basic order forming.

Clearly, it's McLaren, Ferrari and Renault at the front, ahead of BMW and Williams... the rest is anyone's guess.

Although slightly chilly early on, things soon warmed up and despite a fairly strong breeze, conditions were ideal.

Setting the pace today were the Ferrari's of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, between them the Maranello cars covered 262 laps, with no hint of the problems encountered yesterday.

Thanks to the weather and the F2007's reliability the day went smoothly and the planned programme was completed, with both drivers completing a number of long runs.

Third quickest was Renault's Heikki Kovalainen, who, like Raikkonen, was over 0.5s off Massa's pace. The French team enjoyed a productive session with both cars, and like Ferrari completed its entire planned programme without any problems.

Fisichella concentrated on a set- up programme during the day, in addition to completing tyre evaluation with Bridgestone. The Italian completed an impressive total of 131 laps to finish fifth fastest.

Across the garage, Kovalainen also concentrated on set-up development, as well as conducting initial evaluations of new aerodynamic components ahead of the forthcoming Bahrain tests. The Finn was pleased with his day's work after completing a total of 101 laps.

The programmes with both cars left the team both satisfied and encouraged at the end of the day. This data will be built upon during tomorrow's final day of testing at the Spanish circuit.

"We worked well today, completed lots of laps and didn't have any problems at all," said Fisichella. "In terms of performance, the times are clearly very close but we seem competitive. "It was a good day for us, and I hope we can achieve the same tomorrow."

"I managed to complete my programme today, and we achieved the team's objectives for the day," added Kovalainen. "We did lots of laps, collected plenty of data, and the overall result looks positive. We will be aiming for the same again tomorrow on our final day in Barcelona."

McLaren continued to work on set-up and aerodynamic development with Lewis Hamilton joining Fernando Alonso. The Englishman spent the afternoon conducting race simulation work, including pit stop practice, although his long runs were affected by a number of red flag stoppages.

It was a difficult day for BMW with both drivers use of the recovery vehicle making it look as though the Catalunya service was providing an exclusive taxi service for the German team.

Though the team described it as a "problem day", Robert Kubica's comment to Pitpass that they are "big problems" should be taken with a pinch of salt, after all, the Pole was laughing at the time. Or was he?

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