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Hamilton continues to set Paul Ricard pace

NEWS STORY
16/05/2007

Having set the pace on Tuesday, Lewis Hamilton once again topped the timesheets at Paul Ricard today, as all eleven teams continued their preparations for next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

The Englishman improved on his best time from yesterday by 0.085, however, his rivals, most notably Felipe Massa, closed the gap, getting to within 0.141s of the McLaren driver.

Conditions for much of the day were ideal, except for the occasional strong wind and cloud. Once again, the teams were using the 2D SC Short configuration.

Hamilton continued to focus on the MP4-22's aero package, in addition to tyre evaluation and set-ups. The World Championship leader completed 133 laps on his way to posting a best time of 1:05.614.

Bahrain and Spain winner Felipe Massa was second quickest, having been pace-setter for much of the morning. The Brazilian continued with finding the best set-up, tyre evaluations, including the super-soft option, and development of aerodynamic and mechanical components. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen takes over the F2007 tomorrow.

Third quickest was Robert Kubica, fresh from his fourth place at Barcelona. The Pole started the day working out a baseline-set up. He then evaluated aerodynamic modifications on the car. The team also did development work on the electronic systems. In the afternoon he concentrated on set-ups.

With neither driver having encountered any problems, tomorrow (Thursday), Kubica will continue on the longer version of the Paul Ricard track, testing a medium downforce package in preparation for the Canadian Grand Prix.

David Coulthard took over driving duties from Mark Webber for Red Bull, the Scot focussing on tyre evaluation, aerodynamic and suspension work. Mark Webber is back on duty tomorrow.

Following his points finish at Barcelona, Takuma Sato returned to work today, and will be delighted to have finished fifth quickest, thereby emphasising Super Aguri's improving form. Although the team had a small set back in the morning, 115 laps were achieved whilst evaluating the Monaco aero package. The Japanese team also tested both tyre options satisfactorily. James Rossiter will continue testing duties for the team tomorrow.

Heikki Kovalainen was back in action for Renault, as the World Champions continued with the test programme begun by Nelson Piquet yesterday. The Finn, who completed the most lap (151) concentrated on car set-ups and also conducted several aerodynamic tests.

The Finn will be driving again tomorrow, when the circuit will be changed to a Canada-style configuration (long straights and tight corners) to prepare for the sixth round of the 2007 championship.

"It was an interesting day of ahead of next week's race," said Kovalainen. "We worked on the car set-up and the tyres, and the car reacted well to the different changes. I think our testing yesterday and today will give us a good basis for the opening practice sessions on Thursday in Monaco."

"We completed a trouble-free day without any difficulty, and ran through a wide range of set-up solutions that we wanted to test," said Christian Silk. "I think the data from today looks good, and will be a good basis for our work in Monaco and at the next races. It was a busy day for Heikki, and the engineers now have to analyse the data to make the most of the work he completed today!"

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