Longest day but fastest lap for Massa


Felipe Massa brought the three day Silverstone test to a close by posting the fastest time of the week at the Northamptonshire track, thereby giving his tteam a much needed boost ahead of next month's British Grand Prix.

Once again, there were sporadic showers, though most of the teams still managed to complete their planned programmes.

Massa's programme for the day included experimenting with new aerodynamic and mechanical solutions and working on finding the best set-up for the F2007. The Brazilian driver covered a total of 87 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.20.805.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for the Brazilian, who was the cause of three red flag during the course of the day, one of them following a spin into the gravel trap shortly after the session got underway.

The Italian outfit will be back on track next Wednesday at Fiorano, where Luca Badoer will carry out the shakedown of the cars that will be used in the French Grand Prix.

Second quickest, albeit 0.469s behind, was Fernando Alonso, who took over from Pedro de la Rosa. The Woking team continued to focus on aerodynamic developments, Bridgestone Potenza tyre evaluation and general set-up work for the forthcoming races. Running was severely interrupted in the morning when an oil system problem was discovered.

"This week has seen us intensively testing the MP4-22 package," said Martin Whitmarsh, "with work concentrating on aerodynamic improvements and brake material testing. Despite some inconvenient interruptions over the course of the three days - mainly due to weather, we feel confident that we have achieved a good understanding of where we are in our preparations for the next set of back-to-back races in France and Britain, and despite being unable to complete the entire programme, the work we have done has been very effective at this crucial stage of the Championship."

Third quickest was Nico Rosberg, the third driver on duty for Williams in as many days.

"Nico continued where Alex left off yesterday," said test team manager Dickie Stanford, "putting the aero upgrades through their paces in time for Magny-Cours and Silverstone.

"We've had a very positive three days here," he continued, "working through a busy test schedule with no major problems. The test team have done a really good
job. We are now off to Goodwood to run Kazuki over the weekend and we then travel to Iceland for a running car event with Nico for Hamleys."

After two days of work from Heikki Kovalainen, the team continued its programme with test driver Nelson Piquet Jr. at the wheel today. Moving forward from the data collected by Heikki, the young Brazilian firstly worked on set-up to find a comfortable balance, before beginning the development programme. He conducted a series of tyre tests to assess their performance and general consistency.

The Brazilian had a busy day, completing more than 100 laps, and the level of performance of the R27 was encouraging. At the end of the day, he finished fourth-fastest with a best lap of 1:21.357, having completed 548 km on his return to the cockpit.

"I was really pleased to be driving today," said Piquet, "because I really enjoy this circuit and I have always felt good here. I hadn't driven since the last test in Paul Ricard, and was excited about this week, and the car was handling well - better than I expected to be honest. We made good progress with our programme, and collected interesting data which confirms Heikki's work earlier in the week. That's a positive sign."

"We rounded the week off with a very good day's work," added Christian Silk. "Nelson settled in quickly, and felt comfortable straight away, which helped us make good progress. We had no problems with the car, which is always satisfying, and continued working with the data Heikki had collected on the previous days. In overall terms, this has been a productive and useful test. We can see that we are making progress step by step, but the other teams are doing the same, and we know that this isn't the time to take our foot off the pedal!"

Yesterday's pace-setter, Jarno Trulli, could only manage fifth quickest today, though he remained 'in touch' with the Williams and Renault.

The Italian spent the day comparing tyres for the British Grand Prix and doing other work on systems and suspension. Despite regular interruptions for red flags he put in a total of 70 laps.

"This week has gone pretty well for us," said Trulli. "We've concentrated mainly on preparation for next month's British Grand Prix here but we've also done work in preparation for the coming race at Magny-Cours next weekend.

"Today I did some tyre comparisons and put some mileage on some other systems on the car. We've been reasonably quick here over the last three days but all that matters is what you can achieve at the races. So far the season hasn't gone as well as we'd hoped but we will continue to push to get the best out of the package in the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to coming to race at Silverstone because I believe that we should perform well here. But we still have three weeks to go and anything can change before then, including the weather."

"We were expecting more rain today," admitted Gerd Pfeiffer, "so we were prepared to do some wet weather work. Instead the track stayed dry for most of the hours of running so that was lucky. Jarno spent the morning doing tyre comparisons, working on different set-ups and looking at the suspension and other systems. In the afternoon the continued dry weather meant that we were able to do some work on aerodynamics and different weight distributions. The only interruptions today were caused by the frequent red flags but we made it through everything we had planned. Overall it has been a successful week and we look forward to using what we have learned here in the coming races."

After driving his car around Wembley Stadium yesterday, as part of a publicity stunt for December's Race of Champions event, David Coulthard was back up to more normal speeds on the wide open windswept spaces of Silverstone today, as he took over from Mark Webber.

Today's programme was intensive as the Austrian team made up for time lost through the weather, red flags and technical problems over the past two days.

On the agenda; assessing the new aero package and some suspension geometry changes, working on British Grand Prix tyre choice and set-up work to suit the Silverstone track.

"It was a busy day," admitted chief test engineer Ian Morgan, in a masterpiece of understatement, "but we got through the majority of our programme.

"We have found solutions for most of the problems we encountered and we have been able to sign-off aero and suspension parts for the next two grands prix," he revealed.

BMW's programme included the testing of tyres, different suspension parts and aerodynamics. Timo Glock had a trouble-free day, completing 80 laps.

Scott Speed was on duty for Toro Rosso for the third and final day of what what the Italian team describes "a productive" test. The only fly in the ointment was a failure in the power train - currently under investigation - which shortened this afternoon's programme. The American worked on general set-up as well as tyre evaluation.

"We did our homework on various solutions; some paid off and some didn't," said Giorgio Ascanelli. "Until this afternoon, general reliability seemed good, as we managed to put the equivalent of three race distances on the same quick-shift gearbox. And in performance terms, it seems better too. So to sum up, these three days have allowed us to sign off new steering and suspension components and the quick shift box for the French Grand Prix."

Christijan Albers completed the lion's share of the driving for Spyker as work continued on brake system development, set-up for the British Grand Prix and tyre evaluation. An electrical problem towards the end of the morning halted his running until the early afternoon, but he nevertheless completed 35 laps with a best time of 1:23.374.

Giedo van der Garde took over the car in the afternoon, however on his first run, he spun into the gravel trap and damaged the front suspension. Technicians repaired the car to get Christijan out again towards the end of the afternoon, but light rain stopped any improvement in time.

"We had a few interruptions," said Dominic Harlow. "A few red flags, then the rain arrived at lunch as we knew it would make the track briefly damp, and we had a technical issue with the car that lost us some time whilst it was traced. Christijan continued to improve his set-up for the race here in a couple of weeks, and unfortunately Giedo had a spin during his short programme. Overall there are a lot of positives from the three days to take into the French Grand Prix next weekend and when we come to Silverstone for the race just one week later."

"We started quite well this morning as we had a good set-up," said Albers. "I was very happy with the progress, but the afternoon was disappointing as we lost time some time with the electrical problem where couldn't go full throttle and that compromised the lap time slightly today. Then Giedo went off, which was a shame as I couldn't do some runs with new tyres to try and attack this time. I think there would easily be a quicker time in the car."

"The plan for today was to do some runs in the afternoon after the shortened time on Tuesday," revealed van der Garde. "Of course I was very pleased to get the chance again. On the second lap it was already faster than Tuesday's lap time, but then in the fast third corner on the third lap the car snapped at the rear and it just got away. You're going pretty quick in that corner, but I just bounced across the gravel trap and then touched the wall and damaged the front wing. It took some time to repair and then I handed it back to Christijan so he could complete the programme."

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Published: 21/06/2007
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