de la Rosa quickest at Jerez


Pedro de la Rosa topped the timesheets on the penultimate day of testing of 2006.

The Woking team, which also had Lewis Hamilton on duty, continued the process of learning how to maximise the Bridgestone Potenza tyres, the main focus of the winter testing programme. In addition the two drivers also spent time on suspension development with both assessing each alternative packages.

Unfortunately, Hamilton had a pneumatic problem in his engine during the morning but the team soon turned this around and as a result it didn't disturb his programme too much.

Second quickest was Jarno Trulli, as Toyota brought its 2006 programme to an end, having begun testing on Tuesday, one day earlier than its rivals.

The day was a special occasion for the Japanese team, not only because it marked the end of a long year of testing but also because it was the last appearance for Olivier Panis in Formula 1. Despite suffering from a cold which he caught ice racing (!), the 40-year-old test driver joined race driver Jarno Trulli on track to add his vast experience to the work on next season's Bridgestone tyres. Repairs on a small issue in the morning caused a slight delay but he soon got back to work for one last time in a Formula 1 car.

Unfortunately, the Frenchman had to finish his final test early as he was not well enough to drive in the afternoon and consequently Kohei Hirate was drafted in to take over. The Japanese driver quickly resumed where he left off on Tuesday and tried out various set-ups on the new tyres.

Toyota's testing programme for this year has now ended and the next date in the team's diary is the pre-season event in Cologne on 12 January.

"It was my last day in Formula 1 and I am sure I will miss it but eventually you have to make this decision," said Panis. "I have enjoyed my time in Formula 1, driving these cars, and I have enjoyed my time with Toyota. The team has always been good to me and it has been a great pleasure to work with them. But now is the right time for a change. Even though this was my last time in a Formula 1 car, it was still a normal day of testing and in the time I had in the car, we worked on learning about the new tyres for next season. I picked up a cold last weekend and I did not feel good today. It's a shame I could not finish the day but that's unfortunately the way it goes sometimes."

"Today was quite an unusual day to finish the year with," added Pascal Vasselon. "Jarno was able to do a lot of running which was quite productive, and he set several very competitive lap times as well. He had to stop at the end of the session with a hydraulic issue but it was so late in the day it did not really alter our programme. Unfortunately for Olivier he had a slight delay this morning when a part inside the fuel tank had to be repaired and then we decided to put Kohei in the car as Olivier was suffering from a cold."

Christian Klien and James Rossiter continued for honda. The Austrian spent the morning session working through various chassis set-up evaluations whilst his English teammate completed new tyre runs, followed by an aero programme. Both drivers spent the afternoon completing long tyre runs whilst evaluating the chassis set-up work.

Tomorrow, Rossiter will be joined by Marco Andretti.

Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer continued for Ferrari as the Italian team continued with the programme begun yesterday that included development of the new gearbox and mechanical components, in addition to working on adapting the car to the new tyres and engine reliability. Tomorrow (Friday), Marc Gene will join Badoer.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a small gear box problem in the morning and was not able to get back on track before mid-day. However the problem was easily identified and fixed and according to the team does not call into question the technology developed for this new 2007 gearbox. Despite a short day of running, Fisichella recorded good data regarding the Bridgestone tyres and set the tenth-fastest lap time.

Heikki Kovalainen enjoyed a trouble-free day and remained focused on tyre testing and set-up changes in order to improve the behaviour of his R26. At the end of the session, with 110 laps covered, the Finn had set the eighth-fastest lap time.

"It's a shame I could not cover more laps today," said Fisichella, "but the small incident I had was quickly identified and analysed. That's also why we are testing! In the end, I think we did once again a good job today and tomorrow for the last testing day of the season, I know we will try to push hard."

"I enjoyed a good day of testing," added Kovalainen. "I had to cover as many laps as possible and I had to remain focused on tyre testing and set-up changes. Each test we make helps us understand better the Bridgestone envelops and that is very important as the next season is coming very soon…"

"It was an interesting day once again," said Christian Silk. "Heikki was able to complete his programme without any problem but Giancarlo had some delays owing to the small incident that happened on his car. Finally everything went well, we recorded some good data especially regarding the tyres. We are on schedule, we know where we are. Tomorrow is our last day of testing this year and we will push hard again, we have to take benefit from each day we have on track".

BMW enjoyed another trouble-free day of testing, as Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica both achieved good mileage again, completing 219 laps in total. Both drivers spent the morning on set-up work, while in the afternoon the German did five long runs and Kubica did three.

Tomorrow, Kubica will be joined by Sebastian Vettel. As the team has almost completed its 'to-do list' in terms of new parts and components, their task will be validation work for the test results achieved so far.

Kazuki Nakajima continued for Williams, the Japanese driver finishing the day thirteenth quickest. "Today, Kazuki continued testing and enjoyed another successful day," said test team manager, Mike Condliffe. "We tried several set-up changes during the morning session as Kazuki got to know the car better, as well as some systems checks for Toyota in the afternoon runs. Kazuki has made a very good start to his testing duties at Williams and has already provided good technical feedback."

Just 0.3s down on Nakajima was Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri. The Japanese driver's programme comprised continued evaluation of the 2007 Bridgestone Potenza tyres whilst running through a series of set-up changes, engine programme and control systems modifications.

Michael Ammermuller continued for Red Bull, while Toro Rosso had Scott Speed and Sebastian Bourdais on duty. The American crashed heavily this afternoon, following what is thought to be brake failure. Meanbwhile, Bourdais is clearly gertting to grips with the Toro Rosso, having improved on yesterday's time and closing to within 0.025s of Scott Speed.

Nakajima and Ammermuller both had offs during the course of the session, while Hamilton and Trulli both stopped on track with mechanical problems.

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Published: 14/12/2006
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