Raikkonen quickest as Barcelona test ends (with pictures)


McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets on the final day of testing at Barcelona.

At the beginning of this week's test it was forecast that rain would arrive on Friday, hence Renault's decision to move its programme forward by a day.

And so it came to pass that shortly after the 'tribute' to the Pope, light rain began to fall, and this in turn gave way to a heavy downpour. In the late afternoon the rain stopped and the track began to dry, at which point the organizers took the unusual decision of keeping the track open for an extra hour - to allow some dry running.

The wet weather conditions meant a change to all the teams' planned schedules, including McLaren, where both Alexander Wurz and Raikkonen focussed on running an intermediate and wet weather Michelin tyre programme for the forthcoming San Marino Grand Prix.

Alex drove the MP4-19B, while Kimi had the MP4-20. The day ended early following a transmission problem.

"Today we had to change our planned programme due to the wet weather," said Wurz, "however it was a productive day and we completed a significant number of laps. I am now looking ahead to next week's test and putting in significant mileage on MP4-20."

"The changeable weather conditions today meant that we could focus on both wet weather and intermediate tyre testing for Michelin, and the team worked well to change our programme from that which we had originally planned," added Kimi.

Contrary to reports elsewhere, McLaren has said that Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa will test at Paul Ricard next week (13 - 15), which suggests that the team has not yet decided who will replace Juan Pablo Montoya in San Marino, should the Colombian still be injured.

With the two McLarens topping the timesheets, Sauber, a team that really needs a boost at present, will have been delighted to see Felipe Massa finishing third quickest. However, an engine failure in the late afternoon, which brought the Swiss outfit's programme to an early end, indicates that there is still a long way to go.

"Today we were quite hindered by the bad weather conditions," admitted Giampaolo Dall'Ara, the team's race engineer. "It started to rain in the morning and the track was basically wet until close to the end of the test day. Luckily we got a test extension and thanks to that we were able to do some data verifications in dry conditions.

"We found some conclusions for the aerodynamics at Imola and have completed our race preparation for the San Marino Grand Prix, but unfortunately we were not in the position to finish a few issues for the race in Barcelona.

"Overall, we have found some results during our test this week, but we are still not at the pace we want to be and need to work for further improvements."

Nick Heidfeld was the quicker of the two WilliamsF1 drivers on duty, but it was marginal, the German edging out Antonio Pizzonia by 0.15s. Both drivers continued the Grove outfit's preparations for Imola and next month's Spanish GP, focussing on set-ups and tyre evaluation.

It was clearly a frustrating day for Ferrari, which opted to pack in early, its programme compromised by the weather. Between them, Michael Schumacher (F2005) and Luca Badoer (F2004 M) completed just 52 laps.

The Maranello team resumes testing on Tuesday, with Schumacher and Badoer at Mugello, while Rubens Barrichello will take to the track at Fiorano.

Following the high of Thursday, when Jenson Button posted a new unofficial lap record, it was back to earth with a bang (literally) for BAR, when Enrique Bernoldi's engine detonated and then caught fire.

Bernoldi was joined by Takuma Sato, both driving 007s. The Brazilian ran for a total of 63 laps taking the engine past its target mileage before it went 'bang', he did not run again. By late afternoon, once the track had dried sufficiently to move onto grooved tyres, Sato ran through an aerodynamic evaluation.

Propping up the timesheets was Tonio Liuzzi, who makes his F1 race debut at Imola. The highlight of the Italian's day was a spin, which caused one of the few red-flags of the car. Both driver and car were OK, and were later able to continue.

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Published: 08/04/2005
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