Toro Rossos lead the way in Barcelona (with pictures)

02/02/2008
NEWS STORY

The Toro Rosso duo of Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais topped the timesheets on the second day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

However, before anyone gets the impression that in 2008 we could be about to witness a major upset in terms of form it should be pointed out that the times were set when the Toro Rosso duo were taking part in a simulated qualifying session - complete with qualifying fuel loads.

In fact, according to the Faenza based team, the whole day was given over to simulating a race weekend, and not merely for the benefit of Bourdais who will be making his F1 debut this year, but for the entire race team.

The team claims that it was a successful day, both in terms of the 'dress rehearsal' and in terms of continuing to gather data on the interim car with which it will start the season. That said, both drivers stopped out on track late in the session.

Consequently, with the Toro Rossos setting their times on 'qualifying loads', the quickest driver on a 'regular' fuel load was Lewis Hamilton, who finished 0.83s ahead of the next man, his teammate Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn took over testing duties from Gary Paffett today, as the Woking team once again focussed on tyre work with Bridgestone and aerodynamic and mechanical developments. The pair also spent time on practice starts in the pitlane. Hamilton's programme ended just over an hour before the end of the session with a minor transmission issue, however, between them the duo completed 150 laps.

Sadly, there were elements of football-style hooliganism at the Spanish track today, with Spanish 'fans' shouting abuse at the McLaren team, waving banners and even, according to some eye witness reports, throwing 'missiles' at the cars as they left the pitlane.

At previous tests partisan fans, clearly there to support their hero Alonso, had displayed banners, most of them mocking McLaren and in particular Lewis Hamilton.

However, the behaviour this weekend, not helped by the sheer numbers attending, has turned a little nastier. It started out with booing every time a McLaren went past but soon the fans were chanting, much of it racist.

Consequently, circuit security roped off a section of the main grandstand opposite the McLaren garage in order that the team would not be subjected to further abuse, and potential 'missiles', while the Woking outfit effectively barricaded itself in at the end of the pitlane, even resorting to employing a guard who is refusing access to almost everyone. Crew members have also been asked not to make eye contact with the 'fans'.

Fifth quickest overall was Robert Kubica, who was partnered by Nick Heidfeld. Both cars ran without technical problems today, allowing the duo to complete 165 laps. Like Friday however, the session was hampered by the low track and air temperatures.

Kubica and Heidfeld concentrated on the mechanical and aerodynamical set-up of the car, while the German team also tried some new parts to optimize the balance of the car. Both drivers completed their scheduled programmes.

Although both Renault drivers were over 0.8s off Hamilton's time, with 230 laps between them there is no questioning the R28's reliability. Though the conditions were far from ideal, Alonso concentrated on long runs in the morning, before working on aero testing as the team added new parts to the car. Meanwhile, Piquet completed more basic set-up work as he too completed some long runs, and then took the opportunity to familiarise himself with various race procedures with some practice starts and pit-stops. Both drivers completed their programmes as planned.

With good reliability on both cars, it was the chance to put more miles on the R28. The Spaniard covered a total of 115 laps, setting a best time of 1:22:938, while the Brazilian similarly recorded 115 laps, almost double a race distance.

"The track conditions were not great today," admitted Alonso, "but we did not have any problems and I did lots of laps, so we have lots of data that we will have to go through tonight with the engineers. We will finish our programme tomorrow for the last day here in Barcelona, and I hope we can continue improving our understanding of the new car."

"It was a good day for me," added Piquet, "as I completed my programme and drove for the whole day, which was what I needed. I'm feeling more comfortable with the car and we are definitely making progress. We did some practice starts and pit stops at the end of the day because without traction control a lot of things have changed and we need to get used to it."

"Today was a positive day," said Christian silk, "and we achieved good mileage with both cars, without any problems. I was happy with the performance of both drivers and we learnt a lot about the car performance-wise, which has given us lots of interesting data to work with tomorrow. We did some long runs this afternoon with Nelson, so I'm very pleased with the day overall as we achieved the majority of our objectives."

Both Red Bull drivers ran similar programmes, based mainly around aero work, suspension development and chassis set-up. While Mark Webber got through his entire programme, David Coulthard was slightly delayed by a couple of minor problems, but he still got through almost all of his scheduled workload, with good progress being made on all fronts, according to the team.

Following Kazuki Nakajima's crash yesterday, and an overnight investigation, the team made a cautious return to work this morning. However, despite Nakajima and Nico Rosberg completing a further 74 laps today, the Grove outfit opted to abandon the test and return to base as it investigates a weakness to the FW30's front wing.

New parts flown out to the track overnight do not appear to have solved the problem, and therefore the team decided to return to Grove and (hopefully) solve the problem before the test at Jerez.

"We had a reliability issue with the front wing," a spokesperson told Pitpass. "We could not implement an appropriate short term solution so we decided to return to the factory to address it in time for the Jerez test in just over a week's time"

There's still a long way to go for Honda, meanwhile, with Jenson Button 1.8s off Hamilton's pace. The Brackley team concentrated on chassis 02 today whilst awaiting new parts for chassis 01, which have been completed in time for integration into tomorrow's programme.

The English driver completed a number of different set-up options to develop the car balance, completing 56 laps over the course of the day. Button will continue in chassis 02 tomorrow whilst Rubens Barrichello will be back in chassis 01.

Having been fourth quickest on Friday with Giancarlo Fisichella, it was back to reality today for Force India, as Tonio Liuzzi finished the day at the foot of the timesheets, 2.1s off Hamilton's pace.

Liuzzi's programme followed on from Fisichella's, as he ran through set-up and work on engine installation and cooling, however with clutch and driveline problem interrupting running, the Italian struggled to find a good rhythm and match yesterday's relative pace. He nevertheless completed 61 laps of the Spanish track with a best lap of 1:24.263. Adrian Sutil will conclude the test tomorrow.

"Overall another long day with a few issues," said the Italian, "but that is normal as we are testing some new parts and it is part of the course. Unfortunately we couldn't complete a lot of kilometres, which makes it difficult to get into the rhythm and get used to the car, but although it was a difficult day we did get some good information that we can carry forward for the next test."

"Today was a much more difficult day," admitted Mike Gascoyne, "as we had a couple of mechanical issues, first with a clutch problem and then a driveshaft failure, and we couldn't quite get temperatures in the rear tyres so our apologies to Tonio for the disrupted running. Tonio also struggled with the balance, so we need to do more work with him to get more out of the car.

To check out our Barcelona test gallery, featuring 100 pictures, click here

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 02/02/2008
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