Massa quickest on day three


After the persistent rain which hampered Tuesday's programme, conditions were almost ideal today, allowing the teams to continue where they left off on Monday.

Once again it was a Ferrari topping the timesheets, but this time it was Felipe Massa's turn to dominate proceedings.

The Brazilian was trying out the Italian team's new aerodynamic and mechanical solutions for the first time, and was soon getting the very best out of them, though he was unable to match the pace set by his teammate on Monday. Massa also worked on finding the best set-up for the car, in preparation for next weekend's Grand Prix.

Mark Webber was second quickest in the ever-improving Red Bull, the Australian completing 95 laps on his way to posting a best time just 0.298s shy of the Ferrari.

Jarno Trulli was third on the timesheets, and this time there were no 'missed chicanes'. Trulli put in over 100 laps as he made the most of his first run with the car's new aerodynamic package.

"I spent the day working on set-up and configurations for next week's Grand Prix," said the Italian. "It was good to try out the new package, which has many new parts to help our performance. It seems like a step forward but it's difficult to draw too many conclusions from today because the conditions have been a bit strange. The track was wet yesterday and it was gradually drying out during the morning. There has also been quite a lot of wind, which has a major effect on set-up around here. Still, the day has gone quite well, we put in a number of short and long runs without major problems and we've gathered a lot of data that will be useful for the grand prix weekend."

"That was a positive day and we made it through a lot of good work," added Test Team Manager, Gerd Pfeiffer. "We spent our time working on set-up for next week's Spanish Grand Prix and we were able to collect a lot of useful information. The track was green early on but by the afternoon it was consistent. The only main problem was that the wind, which started to pick up around lunch and kept changing direction, making it hard to fine-tune the set-up. We lost a short amount of running with a gearbox control problem in the afternoon but we still made it through over 100 laps. Jarno was happy with what we've achieved so it has been a good preparation for next week."

Renault's Heikki Kovalainen was the busiest man today, completing 123 laps on his way to posting the fourth best time of the day. The Finn worked on car set-up this morning, then concentrated on aero testing for the forthcoming Spanish and Monaco events. He also conducted tyre evaluations over long runs, to check wear levels and the consistency of the car's handling.

"I think we made good progress with the aero tests today," he said, at the conclusion of the day's programme, "we compared the two tyre types over long runs to compare the tyre wear and the car's handling.

"The results of our work were encouraging," he added. "What's more, I have driven in wet and dry conditions this week, which means I am feeling well-prepared for next week's race. I am now really looking forward to seeing how the weekend goes."

"We had planned a big programme today to catch up the track time we lost yesterday, and we managed to complete every item, which is pleasing," added Christian Silk. "There were some interesting developments in chassis set-up, and I think they are promising for the coming races. We are moving in the right direction, and we hope that our situation will improve a little in the coming weeks."

Fifth quickest was Fernando alonso, who only managed an installation lap on Tuesday. The Spaniard continued the intensive development work carried out by Pedro de la Rosa on Monday, concentrating on aerodynamics, cooling and systems reliability, with the team looking to maximise the track time today whilst the weather was clear. In addition race specific set-ups were assessed for next week's Grand Prix.

Robert Kubica took over from Nick Heidfeld for BMW, the extension to the test meaning that the Pole will now get two day's of testing. The German team focussed on on set ups and tyre evaluation.

Tomorrow, Kubica will continue with his team's preparations for next week race, in addition to continuing with some of the work scheduled for Heidfeld on day two, but not completed due to bad weather.

Jenson Button was in action for Honda, the Englishman finishing seventh, 1.25s off the pace. The Englishman spent the day completing a series of evaluations with the latest aero package. In the afternoon session, he also worked on the race set-up in preparation for next week.

Christian Klien will take over the car for the final day of the test tomorrow.

Hot on the Honda's tail was Anthony Davidson in the Super Aguri, as the Japanese team continued evaluation of car set-ups and tyres, making up for time lost due to bad weather conditions yesterday. Although it is not staying on for the extra day, the team is satisfied with the progress it has made.

"The team has worked extremely hard to enable developments to be brought to the car for this test and in time for the forthcoming Grand Prix," said Sprting Director, Graham Taylor. "A reliable three days were utilised to determine extremes of set-up and data collection for the new parts of the car. Honda and Bridgestone once again helped us to gain information and experience. Both drivers ended their running-time happy with the performance of their cars and we can look forward to the race next week."

"After heavy rain yesterday the track was still damp and 'green' in the morning," said Davidson. "But we found a good balance early on and tried a few different aero set-ups with good results. Later in the afternoon the wind speed picked up making the track difficult to drive on for the rest of the day. Even so I felt comfortable in those conditions and completed some longer runs. We used two different tyre specs again and they behaved as we thought they would, so we are looking forward to returning here next week and continuing with the good car balance that we have had here at the test."

Scott Speed completed 96 laps on his way to posting the ninth best time of the day, as Toro Rosso brought its Barcelona preparations to a close. The job sheet for all three days included tyre evaluation of the two compounds that Bridgestone will have on offer for the race weekend, trying new aero components and evaluating various braking systems and materials.

"We will now have to study the data to see if these changes are an improvement and if we should use them for the race," said Chief Engineer, Laurent Mekies. "The rain hampered our progress, but today, Scott did nearly a hundred laps which allowed us to catch up with our programme. After a rushed start to the season, this session was a good opportunity to develop our excellent relationship with Ferrari, with whom we worked on improving performance and on the car's control systems."

Christijan Albers took over driving duties today for Spyker's third and final day of testing here. The Dutch driver completed 66 laps as the team focussed on evaluating tyres and suspension plus preparing set-ups for next week's Grand Prix.

After a productive morning in which Albers completed several longer runs, the team's running was shortened following a mechanical problem. With the team returning to base tonight rather than staying for a fourth day, the team called a halt to the test.

"We had a fairly useful day today," said Mike Gascoyne. "We made some improvements to the car's handling with some different damper settings and the car was fairly consistent in the longer runs, so we can be confident of a better performance in the race next week. We stopped running early when we discovered a small problem with the rear of the car, but it's not something that will affect us next time out in Barcelona. Overall it was a useful test and we can now look forward to the Grand Prix."

"We started out quite well this morning," added Albers. "We were working on some race set ups and I was quite happy as we improved the car's handling. I did a lot of laps and I tried to push really hard before trying some new tyres in the afternoon, but then unfortunately we had a failure. It's a shame as it took our afternoon away, but I think we can be pleased with today - overall it was a good day's work."

As previously reported, Williams' programme was brought to an early end when Nico Rosberg crashed heavily this morning. The FW29, which sustained damage to the chassis could not be repaired at the circuit. Nico was unhurt but underwent precautionary medical check-ups and was subsequently cleared by medical staff.

"Barcelona was not as productive a test for us as it might have been with two considerable accidents," admitted Test Team Manager Dickie Stanford. "Both Kazuki and Nico are fine. We had to stop the test earlier than planned due to the chassis damage. However, having tested at this track over the winter will help us prepare for the GP here next weekend."

It is expected that tomorrow's final day of testing will be hampered by further intermittent rain showers.

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Published: 02/05/2007
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