Schumacher tops timesheets on day one


While many are wondering whether he will be in the second Toyota at Magny-Cours in a fortnight's time, Ralf Schumacher served notice that there's life in the old dog yet, posting the fastest time of the day as testing got underway at Silverstone.

The German completed 71 laps today, out-pacing his nearest rival (Pedro de la Rosa) by 0.121s just days after a needless accident at Indianapolis - never the Toyota driver's happiest hunting ground - which eliminated two of his rivals.

Schumacher worked on different systems as he concentrated set-up work for next month's British. In view of the fact that he has been out-qualified by his teammate at all seven races this year he also carried out some qualifying runs. The team will continue tomorrow with Jarno Trulli at the wheel.

"In general it was a successful day," said the German, "and we made it through everything that we had planned. We were concentrating on set-up work, primarily targeted at the British Grand Prix. We also looked at some different aero settings and did some qualifying runs. The conditions were very good, particularly in the morning, although the wind picked up in the afternoon. We had one stoppage after lunch while we changed some suspension settings but overall things went well."

"We are spending the week focusing on set-up work for next month's Grand Prix," added Gerd Pfeiffer, "and today was a positive way to start. This morning went quite well, we did some tyre comparisons and we went through different set-ups. We also did work with a few different aerodynamics settings and we carried out some qualifying runs.

"All in all we made it through 51 laps before lunch," he continued. "In preparation for the afternoon session we carried out some changes to the suspension settings and we spent the rest of the day doing some more comparisons. From tomorrow we will have Jarno driving and we hope to make further progress."

Pedro de la Rosa was on duty for McLaren, the Woking team describing this week's test as the most comprehensive of the season so far. The Spaniard and World Champion Fernando Alonso are each spending time at Silverstone as the team works through an intensive engineering programme. Work today focused on developments to the MP4-22 and set-ups for the upcoming British Grand Prix.

Third quickest was Indianapolis points scorer Mark Webber. The Austrian team is evaluating a new aero update for the French Grand Prix and also worked on a tyre comparison programme for the British Grand Prix, as well as doing some general set-up work.

However, the Australian suffered a hydraulic actuator problem which cost him valuable track time. He ended the days 0.535s off Schumacher's pace but having only completed 42 laps.

Renault is another team with a massive programme planned this week, and on the first day of testing it was Heikki Kovalainen who got the programme started. The young Finn focused on car set-up in the morning, and once he had found a satisfactory balance, began the heart of the technical programme.

In spite of low grip conditions, he was able to compare a number of different aerodynamic set-ups, before making an initial comparison of the two tyre types that Bridgestone will bring to this race (the medium and hard compounds from the 2007 range).

The day was interrupted by numerous red flags for other cars, but the team nevertheless collected useful data, which will hopefully be enriched during the next two days. After good weather at the start of the day, clouds begin building through the afternoon, which indicates a likely deterioration of conditions for tomorrow.

Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet Jr. will be sharing chassis R27-06 on Wednesday and will continue the development work begun today.

"It was an interesting day for us, I think," said the Finn. "We are determined to continue our progress from recent weeks, and this is a very important test session for us. I collected some good data today, which we will analyse overnight and build upon tomorrow. It was also good to find my feet on this circuit, which I know well, before my first British GP in three weeks' time."

"The circuit was very slippery and low grip this morning," added Christian Silk, "which is normal on the first day of testing. But there are lots of teams running, and the grip level will climb quickly as they all put rubber down. That will help us to make good progress with the test programme in the coming days. We didn't quite complete our planned programme, but the work we did was very positive, and looks encouraging for the rest of the week."

Luca Badoer was on duty for Ferrari, the Italian focussing on set-ups as well as the development of new components to be used in the upcoming Grands Prix. Having lost track-time due to a technical problem in the morning, Badoer eventually completed 57 laps, finishing almost a second off the pace. Kimi Raikkonen takes over tomorrow.

A slight back pain brought Nick Heidfeld's day to an earlier end than planned. However, the German wasn't due to test tomorrow, instead Timo Glock will be on duty.

Before his back problem became acute, Heidfeld worked on a set-up for the Silverstone race. He also tested tyres and some new aero and mechanical components which, according to the team, showed promising results.

Tonio Liuzzi was one of several 'F1 people' who experienced delays getting back from the United States, the Italian team making the point that it is not yet in the "private jet league". Consequently, Liuzzi didn't arrive at the Northamptonshire track until after lunch.

The main item on the Faenza outfit's test programme is the quick-shift gearbox system which ran trouble free. The team also worked on evaluating the tyres for the Grand Prix, doing long runs on race fuel loads.

Busiest man today was Kazuki Nakajima who completed an astonishing 124 laps, albeit 1.8s off Schumacher's pace. Despite his high mileage, the Japanese youngster blotted his copybook when he went off at Brooklands causing damage to his car. The team was then forced to kicks its heels as new parts were sent up from Grove.

Spyker had two drivers on duty, GP2 driver Adrian Valles and Giedo van der Garde as it used the new F8-VII/04 chassis for the first time. The duo covered over 300km in total, with a programme covering tyre comparison for the forthcoming British Grand Prix and work on control systems and brake system development.

The short turnaround time was not without its challenges, as several parts had to be flown from Indianapolis across the Atlantic to Silverstone. A race against time - and the weather as the cases of equipment were held up due to storms over the States. In a show of the team's resolve, only minimal track time was lost this morning and 64 laps in total were completed.

Adrian Sutil will take over the wheel tomorrow, while Christijan Albers and Giedo van der Garde will drive on Thursday.

"A productive day for the new chassis," said technical director, James Key. "Everyone concerned did a very good job preparing the car, and a thank you to Ferrari for helping us this morning when we had the delays. Both drivers did well with a reasonable mileage overall and we completed some useful tyre work for the British Grand Prix that we will continue throughout the test. We also tested some new items on the car, which are more for the longer term, but we made some good progress today."

"It was nice to get back in the car," said Valles, "as I didn't drive in the last test in Barcelona. We had some quite good runs, at first I needed to get my confidence up on this track, but every lap felt quicker. We tested some positive items that helped the brake balance and control systems and seemed to go in the right direction."

"It was quite a hectic morning," added van der Garde, "with the parts being held up and we had to wait until mid morning to get out on the track. We did 28 laps, but as I didn't know the track it was hard to get a feeling in that short time. It was only towards the end of the laps that I started to feel comfortable with the car again, but I think it was not too bad. It's good to be back with the team and I'm now really looking forward to getting back in the car on Thursday."

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Published: 19/06/2007
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