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Toro Rossos lead the way in Barcelona (with pictures)

NEWS STORY
02/02/2008

The Toro Rosso duo of Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais topped the timesheets on the second day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

However, before anyone gets the impression that in 2008 we could be about to witness a major upset in terms of form it should be pointed out that the times were set when the Toro Rosso duo were taking part in a simulated qualifying session - complete with qualifying fuel loads.

In fact, according to the Faenza based team, the whole day was given over to simulating a race weekend, and not merely for the benefit of Bourdais who will be making his F1 debut this year, but for the entire race team.

The team claims that it was a successful day, both in terms of the 'dress rehearsal' and in terms of continuing to gather data on the interim car with which it will start the season. That said, both drivers stopped out on track late in the session.

Consequently, with the Toro Rossos setting their times on 'qualifying loads', the quickest driver on a 'regular' fuel load was Lewis Hamilton, who finished 0.83s ahead of the next man, his teammate Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn took over testing duties from Gary Paffett today, as the Woking team once again focussed on tyre work with Bridgestone and aerodynamic and mechanical developments. The pair also spent time on practice starts in the pitlane. Hamilton's programme ended just over an hour before the end of the session with a minor transmission issue, however, between them the duo completed 150 laps.

Sadly, there were elements of football-style hooliganism at the Spanish track today, with Spanish 'fans' shouting abuse at the McLaren team, waving banners and even, according to some eye witness reports, throwing 'missiles' at the cars as they left the pitlane.

At previous tests partisan fans, clearly there to support their hero Alonso, had displayed banners, most of them mocking McLaren and in particular Lewis Hamilton.

However, the behaviour this weekend, not helped by the sheer numbers attending, has turned a little nastier. It started out with booing every time a McLaren went past but soon the fans were chanting, much of it racist.

Consequently, circuit security roped off a section of the main grandstand opposite the McLaren garage in order that the team would not be subjected to further abuse, and potential 'missiles', while the Woking outfit effectively barricaded itself in at the end of the pitlane, even resorting to employing a guard who is refusing access to almost everyone. Crew members have also been asked not to make eye contact with the 'fans'.

Fifth quickest overall was Robert Kubica, who was partnered by Nick Heidfeld. Both cars ran without technical problems today, allowing the duo to complete 165 laps. Like Friday however, the session was hampered by the low track and air temperatures.

Kubica and Heidfeld concentrated on the mechanical and aerodynamical set-up of the car, while the German team also tried some new parts to optimize the balance of the car. Both drivers completed their scheduled programmes.

Although both Renault drivers were over 0.8s off Hamilton's time, with 230 laps between them there is no questioning the R28's reliability. Though the conditions were far from ideal, Alonso concentrated on long runs in the morning, before working on aero testing as the team added new parts to the car. Meanwhile, Piquet completed more basic set-up work as he too completed some long runs, and then took the opportunity to familiarise himself with various race procedures with some practice starts and pit-stops. Both drivers completed their programmes as planned.

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