Testing got underway again, this time in Jerez, Spain’s other main testing venue. But while McLaren hogged the top spot with Pedro De La Rosa lapping the fastest in 1m19.998s, it was Alex Wurz in the new Williams who raised eyebrows during the day. Wurz managed to finish the day in a credible second, only 0.037s off the McLaren pace. Team mate Nico Rosberg wound up in ninth, but only a further 0.5s down, providing much speculation that the Williams is a vast improvement over the miserable year the team endured in 2006. Alex completed 73 laps in his run to second, and while winter testing should not be considered as the final comparitive pace of the cars, it was certainly a confidence boost for Williams and their adoring fans the world over.
McLaren still appear to be the team to beat though, with Lewis Hamilton only 0.2s down on De La Rosa, who completed a mammoth 112 laps during the day. BMW had a good day as well, with Polish driver Robert Kubica taking third spot on the timing sheets, and test driver Sebastian Vettel ending the day in eleventh. The BMWs did suffer hydraulic problems during the day, and this limited their track time, but the team seem confident that the issues can be easily resolved.
Toyota also returned to testing with regular driver Ralf Schumacher and test driver Franck Montagny. Ralf finished in sixth, just ahead of Jenson Button’s Honda, and although the British driver was back in seventh, the car appeared to be running better than previous. Ferrari were also out in force with Kimi Raikkonen and Luca Badoer, but fifth and and tenth was all the team could muster today. Red Bull drivers David Coulthard and Mark Webber sandwiched the two Renault’s of Nelson Piquet Jr and Ricardo Zonta, finishing in 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th, Coulthard leading this pack. Renault claim to be focusing on reliability at the moment, and Piquet Jr did complete a race distance without problem in his R27.
Spyker also ran their new car for the first time today, choosing a cold Silverstone over the comfortable weather in Spain. Christijan Albers drove the new F8-VII around the British circuit, completing 200km. The team will continue their shakedown tomorrow with Adrian Sutil before heading out to Barcelona for a proper test next week.
We’ve had a very successful shakedown despite the cold weather and icy track, which limited our running to between 11am and 4pm, and we had no major mechanical problems. It’s a tribute to the hard work of the guys back at the factory that we got the car ready on time and everything ran very smoothly. We expect similar track conditions tomorrow, when we look to continue testing the systems and picking up as much data as we can for Barcelona. Mike Gascoyne.
Testing continues for most teams at Jerez tomorrow.
1. De La Rosa – McLaren – 1m19.998s
2. Wurz – Williams – 1m20.035s
3. Kubica – BMW – 1m20.158s
4. Hamilton – McLaren – 1m20.222s
5. Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1m20.243s
6. Schumacher – Toyota – 1m20.251s
7. Button – Honda – 1m20.363s
8. Montagny – Toyota – 1m20.412s
9. Rosberg – Williams – 1m20.523s
10. Badoer – Ferrari – 1m20.668s
11. Vettel – BMW – 1m20.711s
12. Coulthard – Red Bull Racing – 1m21.023s
13. Piquet Jr – Renault – 1m21.258s
14. Zonta – Renault – 1m21.389s
15. Webber – Red Bull Racing – 1m21.530s
16. Klien – Honda – 1m22.079s