Raikkonen quickest at rain hit Barcelona


Kimi Raikkonen continued to set the pace at Barcelona today, despite the programme being disrupted by heavy rain showers that fell throughout the day.

The Finn, sporting new sidepods, as previously reported, only took to the track after midday and worked on finding the best set-up for the F2007 on a wet track. The (joint) World Championship leader completed 54 laps on his way to posting a best time of 1:30.280, 1.4s faster than his nearest rival.

Despite the conditions, the only blot on the Finn's copybook was an off which brought his day to a premature end. Though thankfully, neither he nor his F2007 were damaged… just wet.

Mark Webber was second quickest in the Red Bull, which was running the new seamless shift gearbox, which should make its race debut next week. The Australian completed 39 laps without incident.

Third quickest was Heikki Kovalainen, who took over from Renault test driver Nelson Piquet. The World Champions only took to the track at around 13:00 once conditions had improved sufficiently to allow the car to run. The team then attempted to make the most of the wet conditions to work on the handling of the R27.

The Finn completed 53 laps as he focused on set-up improvements, and he collected data in the changing, tricky conditions. The day proved productive, but the team is hoping for improved conditions tomorrow.

"Clearly, we didn't follow the programme we had initially planned owing to the poor conditions," admitted Kovalainen, "but it was still a useful day for myself and the team. Personally, I tried to use every lap to improve something: trying a new line, or pushing the braking points a bit further. The track was changing all the time, and we were able to run the wet and extreme wet tyres today. To be honest, I enjoy driving in the wet, it's different to normal and good fun for the drivers."

"Today's poor weather meant we lost a morning of running," added Christian Silk. "We tried to make the most of our day, working on the set-up and the different control systems. Having said that, we hope to get back on programme tomorrow in improve conditions."

Although he is still buzzing after his experience at the 'Green Hell' at the weekend, neither Nick Heidfeld not his BMW were taking any unnecessary chances today. The German only went out in the afternoon mainly to check the balance of the car in the wet conditions. He also did some systems checks. Despite the lack of laps (17), 'Quick Nick' finished fourth quickest.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Robert Kubica will be on duty for the German team.

Nico Rosberg took over from Kazuki Nakajima, the FW29 having been repaired overnight following the Japanese driver's crash yesterday. The German completed 45 laps, posting a best time 2.29s off Raikkonen's pace.

"Between the rain storms, Nico concentrated on systems checks and set-up work all day in preparation for the race," said Test Team Manager Dickie Stanford, one of countless people up and down the pitlane that found the conditions throughly frustrating.

In the morning, Rubens Barrichello was limited to a single installation lap. However, the rain eased slightly by early afternoon allowing him to go out on extreme wet tyres for a further installation run. The Brazilian worked through an aero evaluation on both the extreme wet and wet tyres, completing a total of 44 laps.

Jenson Button will take over tomorrow with Christian Klien concluding the test programme on Thursday.

Jarno Trulli was in action for Toyota, though the Italian didn't even make it out for an installation lap until shortly before midday. He put in a few runs of work on systems during the breaks in the downpours. But further showers later in the afternoon effectively cut short the work for the day.

Trulli will return to work tomorrow. Toyota will then, as previously reported, take advantage of the extension to the test and continue its work on Thursday with Ralf Schumacher scheduled to drive.

"On a day like this there is very little that you can usefully achieve," admitted Gerd Pfeiffer. "We did some work on different engine specs, we looked at some software and did some different mappings for these weather conditions. But that's about all you can do and it's the same for everyone. We will look to achieve more over the course of the next two days. Tomorrow there is a risk of showers in the morning but the afternoon should be fine so Jarno should get some better running then. The test has now been extended to Thursday when there is again a lower risk of rain."

Takuma Sato was unable to match the pace he set on Monday, nonetheless, the Japanese driver out-paced both Toro Rossos and the Spyker. Due to the weather the team concentrated on wet start analysis and control system development. Anthony Davidson takes over tomorrow.

Toro Rosso had Scott speed and Tonio Liuzzi on duty, the Italian driving in the morning before handing over to his American teammate.

Splitting the two Italian cars was Adrian Sutil, at the wheel of the Spyker which had been rebuild overnight following Adrian Valles' big crash yesterday. The German completed just 11 laps after running was limited to the afternoon as the team completed repairs to the car.

According to the Dutch team the damage to the F8-VII chassis took 225 man hours to repair. The left-hand side of the car having to be rebuilt completely.

Christijan Albers will take over for the third day of the test, the Dutch outfit being the only team that will not stay on for the extra day on Thursday.

'Unfortunately due to the inclement weather conditions, we could only do a limited number of laps," said Mike Gascoyne. "The boys did a fantastic job working through the night to repair the car from yesterday's accident, so thanks to them, but due to a shortage of spare parts, we didn't want to risk too much. Hopefully we will have much better conditions tomorrow in the morning when Christijan takes over and we'll be able to get some more representative information.'

Fernando Alonso took to the track at 13:41 to complete an installation lap. However, with further, yet more sporadic rain predicted over the next days and only limited Bridgestone Potenza wet weather tyres available, there was little value seen in running a wet weather programme in the afternoon due to the limited useful data to be gained.

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Published: 01/05/2007
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