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Raikkonen tops Paul Ricard timesheets

NEWS STORY
17/05/2007

Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets on the third day of testing at Paul Ricard, as the focus switched from preparations for next week's Monaco Grand Prix to preparing for the north American races.

Today and tomorrow, the teams will use the 3.265 mile 1E V2 SC (Short) configuration which best replicates the circuits to be raced on next month, particularly Montreal.

The track which hosts the Canadian GP could not be more different from Monaco's slow corners and high downforce set-ups. The long straights, chicanes and hairpins of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve demand lower downforce but good braking stability as well as the ability to ride the kerbs well and make quick directional changes.

Conditions were overcast for much of the day, with strong winds and even a rain shower in the early afternoon.

Raikkonen's, who retired from last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix while running third, worked on finding the best set-up, comparing the different types of tyre and on development of mechanical and aerodynamic components. The Finn, who suffered an electronics glitch in Spain, lost much of this morning's session with a similar problem, though the exact cause has not yet been identified.

Second quickest, and causing paddock insiders t o do a double-take when checking the timesheets, was Scott Speed in the Toro Rosso. The American spent the day assessing Bridgestone's 'super soft' tyre, which Toro Rosso has not previously tried. He also worked on set-ups, running in a low downforce Canadian GP configuration.

For Renault, Heikki Kovalainen concentrated on setting up his R27 working mainly on aerodynamic tests. He completed his programme without any problems and by the end of the day he had covered a total of 89 laps, some 458 kilometres, and set the third-quickest time. Tomorrow, Giancarlo Fisichella will take over for the French team.

"It was interesting changing circuits today because of the new braking points, trajectories and another level of downforce," said the Finn. "It was a pretty busy day, but we completed our programme and we got through all the points we had to review. I now feel ready for Monaco and the races to come."

"We thought that this morning's wind would interfere with our test schedule," admitted Christian Silk, "but finally we got through a lot of work. Heikki said that he was happy with the car and we soon began our general preparation programme for Canada and the races to come. Tomorrow, Giancarlo will continue the work begun today and that'll bring us to the end of a marathon four-day test session."

Robert Kubica started the day defining a baseline set-up for a medium downforce configuration. He then tested different downforce options. As with most other teams, part of today's programme for BMW was the comparison of the two tyre compounds for the two forthcoming races. In addition, Kubica made several practice starts. Nick Heidfeld will take over for the final day.

Having topped the timesheets at lunchtime, Mark Webber had slipped back to fifth by the close of play, despite clipping 0.5s off his best time from the morning. Apart from more suspension testing, the RB3 was run with Canada GP downforce levels. David Coulthard will return to duty for the final day.

Franck Montagny took over from Ralf Schumacher for Toyota, as the team focused on set-up for Montreal, as well as work on the brakes. Late in the day, the Frenchman damaged his car at the chicane, stopping out on track and consequently bringing out the red flags. According to the team however, the damage was "slight" and Montagny will be behind the wheel again tomorrow.

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