Silverstone testing started today with a surprise leader following on from the US Grand Prix. Ralf Schumacher posted the quickest lap, just over 0.1s faster than McLaren test driver Pedro De La Rosa. Following on from poor performances in North America, the German driver has been giving another race to improve himself in, but as you can imagine, the rumour mill is in full swing. Toyota are likely to be hoping for Ralf to see out his contract to the end of 2007, but if things don’t start to get better, pressures from Toyota management could see the experienced driver receiving his P45 sooner rather than later.
Should Schumacher be shown the door mid-season, the options available to the Japanese team are limited, but possibly fruitful. Kazuki Nakajima has been doing relatively well on Friday’s for Williams, and he is a part of Toyota’s driver development programme. Also available is test driver Franck Montagny, who would relish the chance to get a drive again after a few outings for Super Aguri last year. But one of the more absurd rumours doing the rounds in Northamptonshire today was reported on Pitpass. According to the website, Kimi Raikkonen could be a possible replacement for Ralf at Toyota, the Finn not having the greatest of seasons so far this year.
As ridiculous as it seems, Kimi doesn’t look entirely happy at Ferrari, and Toyota could afford his salary. Would Kimi leave the Scuderia though? I seriously doubt it. Kimi knows that Ferrari is his best chance to take the title, and he would be foolish to give it up on one season of racing with the team.
Back to the test, Mark Webber hauled his Red Bull into third, underlying the pace of the Newey-designed car. Although his RBR3 ground to a hault just prior to end of the test, and both Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi suffered mechanical failures during the day. Heidfeld finished his running an hour early after complaining of back pain.
Incidents include Nakajima running his Williams off the track and damaging the nose. The team had to wait for another to be sent down from its factory in Grove before he could continue. Liuzzi missed half the day because his flight from America was twice canceled, and Williams, BMW and Ferrari all tried out new aerodynamic parts on their cars.
|2.||Pedro De La Rosa||McLaren||1m22.915s|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1m23.329s|
|7.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m24.125s|
|9.||Giedo Van De Garde||Spyker||1m25.391s|