Hamilton ends Valencia test on a high (with pictures)


Lewis Hamilton showed no after effects from his high speed accident at the Valencia circuit last week, when he ended this week's four day test by posting the fastest time.

With the weather remaining dry, Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa continued to put mileage on the MP4-22. The focus remained on aerodynamic testing and set-up work as the team develops a full understanding of the new car.

The Englishman's programme also incorporated a full race distance, while his Spanish teammate's day ended shortly before the end of the session with an engine failure that happened a number of kilometres after the end of the lifecycle of the Mercedes-Benz FO 108T engine. The engine had been used by Fernando Alonso for over 1,100km, before switching to de la rosa's car today and covering over 200km, allowing the team to explore its limits.

Second quickest, albeit 0.727s off the pace, was Kimi Raikkonen in the F2007. In order to make up for the time lost to bad weather earlier in the week, the Finn continued with the F2007 development programme. Kimi was one of three drivers to complete over 100 laps of the Spanish track.

Robert Kubica was joined by Sebastian Vettel, who started the day working on the set-up of the car and then continued with an aerodynamic evaluation programme. In the afternoon, the German lost some time because of a hydraulic problem. Kubica also worked on the set-up and then tested a new Bridgestone tyre compound. Unfortunately, he was forced to stop early because of a leak in the oil system that could not be fixed before the end of the session.

For Renault, the final day of testing saw Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen focus initially on endurance testing, which saw them both complete several long runs as part of their race simulation work.

During the afternoon, both drivers were able to work on set-up development with the R27, in order to improve their understanding of the car's handling and responsiveness to set-up adjustments.

Overall, the session proved positive, and the final day went smoothly for the French team, which was pleased to collect a large amount of data, which will be built on during a three-day test next week in Jerez. Giancarlo Fisichella will once again be in action for the team, alongside Ricardo Zonta, who will be testing for the French outfit for the first time.

"We had to juggle with our programme according to unpredictable weather this week," said Christian Silk, "but we were nevertheless able to make good progress with our primary objective: endurance testing of the new package to ensure optimum reliability, which is our priority at this stage of the season. We had some very encouraging results on that front, and will look to focus more on performance testing during our next session in Jerez."

Mark Webber was Red Bull's sole representative, the Australian completing just 22 laps and finishing 1.66s off the pace.

"We had some teething problems," admitted Head of Race and Test Engineering, Paul Monaghan, "which means we did not complete as many laps as we would have liked.

"However, we learnt a lot and came up with fixes for some of the problems we encountered and we made progress throughout the four days. We are already building up a good relationship with the guys at Renault and we are now looking forward to an even more productive test at Jerez, where we start running on Tuesday with two cars and both race drivers."

Honda's Jenson Button was the slowest today, finishing 1.875s adrift of Hamilton. However, the Englishman completed 89 laps.

"After the first running of the new RA107 in Barcelona where we confirmed that all of the car systems were working as expected, our programme in Valencia this week focused on evaluating different set-up parameters, along with the running of our new controls software," said Engineering Director, Jacky Eeckelaert. "Due to
the variable weather conditions on the first days of the test, our planned programme was a little disrupted so we took the opportunity of an additional day on Friday to maximise our track time. Overall we are pleased with how the car has reacted to the set-up evaluations and look forward to continuing the work next week."

"The car has run reliably over the four days this week," added Button, "which has enabled us to cover some further valuable mileage. We still have some work to do in tuning the set-up of the car to the tyres and we will continue that in Jerez."

To check out our pictures from Valencia, click here

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Published: 02/02/2007
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