Coulthard tops timesheets on final day at Barcelona


Red Bull's David Coulthard topped the timesheets on the final day of testing at Barcelona, as the Spanish test was once disrupted by rain showers.

Although conditions were almost ideal in the morning, after lunch, persistent rain meant that nobody improved on the times set in the morning, indeed with conditions showing no signs of improving the teams opted to pack up one hour ahead of schedule.

Although Coulthard's hot lap comes at a time when the Red Bull is showing signs of improvement, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Other than the fact that the rain meant that nobody was able to post a valid time in the afternoon, it should also be noted that the Scot's time was set on a single hot lap, and not part of a long run.

Nonetheless, when one notes that Mark Webber was second quickest on Wednesday, it gives Red Bull encouragement as it attempts to fight its way up the F1 pecking order against the more established teams.

"A productive four days prior to the start of the European season," said Chief Test Engineer, Ian Morgan. "It's always good to produce quick lap times and to be fastest, but let's wait and see how the situation evolves when we come back here for the race in two weekends' time."

Second quickest was Pedro de la Rosa (above), in the McLaren. The Spaniard, who was in action here on Monday, returned to the Circuit de Catalunya today to complete the on track development programme in the build-up to next week's Grand Prix.

de la Rosa stopped out on track this morning, the result of a gearbox problem, as the team continued evaluating aerodynamic parts including its new front wing. The Spaniard's best time was 0.201s shy of Coulthard's.

"It was good to get back in the car this week," said Fernando Alonso, ahead of his home race here next weekend. "On Tuesday there were difficulties with the weather, so we lost a little bit of track time on that day, but on the other three days we managed to cover a lot of mileage. We were looking at how the car has improved from the last race to now, looking at the developments and checking everything is ok and we completed what we needed to do. So I am happy with how the car is doing, and now we will have to wait and see in the race here next weekend."

Having dominated proceedings yesterday, today was not entirely trouble free for Felipe Massa, the Brazilian suffering a fuel pump failure shortly after the session got underway. Consequently, the Brazilian was unable to get in much dry running, completing just under thirty laps, as he concentrated on finding the best set-up for the F2007. In the afternoon, the Ferrari driver ran in the wet to work on the balance of the car under these track conditions.

Ferrari will be back on track on the 8th May at Fiorano, where Luca Badoer will carry out the shakedown of the cars that will be used in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Although the rain interrupted running at lunchtime, limiting the useful work that could be accomplished during the afternoon, Renault completed a large part of its programme during the morning, with Giancarlo Fisichella at the wheel of chassis R27-05.

The Italian's schedule concentrated on a set-up programme to tune the car's handling to his liking; a comparison of the two types of Bridgestone Potenza tyre that will be used at next weekend's Grand Prix; and a research programme. At the end of the day, the Italian had completed 63 laps, and was fourth on the timesheets.

"We completed most of our work this morning, when conditions were still dry," said Christian Silk. "Giancarlo was pretty happy with the car straight way, and to a large extent this reflects the good progress that we had made earlier in the week. Overall, we have enjoyed a good week's work, with perfect reliability, and the team has given maximum effort overall all four days. Given the changeable weather conditions, we have done as much work as possible on our technical problems, and collected lots of useful data to analyse back at the factory."

Robert Kubica was driving for the second day and he continued the work from Wednesday, which was the set-up for the forthcoming race. In the afternoon the German team was able to confirm the cars wet set-up, and also work on settings and tyres for these conditions.

Ralf Schumacher had already put in over 40 laps of work on aerodynamics and suspension set-up when the first spots of rain began to fall. On the damp track the German did some further work on systems but not many more laps due to the limited mileage in this year's testing regulations.

"The weather has been difficult this week," said Schumacher, "but it has still been quite a successful test for us. Today I spent the morning working on some comparisons on aero parts and some suspension set-up. We had no technical problems and we made it through most our programme. Unfortunately we had rain at lunchtime but that is the same for everyone. After that we just concentrated on starts and system work. The week has gone well and I feel positive about the coming grand prix. When we come back here to Barcelona next week we will have a chance to see where we stand against the other teams."

"We were expecting more rain today so we adapted our programme accordingly," admitted Test Team Manager, Gerd Pfeiffer. "The morning was dry so we were able to put in some useful mileage looking at aerodynamics and suspension set-up. Once the rain arrived we limited the running we did because this year's testing regulations mean that we have to be careful not to waste mileage in wet conditions. We did some launches and did some system checks but that was all. Despite the weather, it's been a positive week of work overall and we have got through everything we had planned. There have been no major technical problems and it sets us up well for next week's Spanish Grand Prix."

Propping up the timesheets was Christian Klien in the Honda, which today sported some hideously ugly - and according to insiders woefully unsuccessful - wings on its nose.

"It was great to be back in the car this week after my last test in Sepang, which was over four weeks ago," said the Austrian. "The track was dry this morning so we evaluated different aero specifications. The weather changed for the afternoon but it was good practice for me to drive the car in the wet."

"The main purpose of our test programme this week was to evaluate different aerodynamic configurations which have been developed in order to improve the braking stability of the car," said Engineering Director, Jacky Eeckelaert. "We had sufficient dry weather testing to find the best package currently available. The
braking is definitely better now and the lap times have improved and become more consistent, but there is still a long way to go to bring the team back into contention."

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Published: 03/05/2007
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