BMW Sauber shine in wet testing
BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld topped the timesheets on Thursday, after a wet final day of testing in Jerez. Heidfeld, who was the only driver to go quicker than 1m 30s, clocked a lap in 1m 29.497s - over half a second faster than Alexander Wurz in the Williams. BMW Sauber tester Timo Glock was third quickest, emphasising the team's impressive form in tricky conditions.
Heidfeld covered 34 laps as he fine tuned the F1.07’s traction control and made some diagnostic checks, while Glock had his first proper run in the team’s new car. The pair initially went out on extreme wet tyres before switching to Bridgestone's standard wet tyres. In the afternoon, as conditions worsened, the team decided to abandon the test.
Although Renault, with their two testers Nelson Piquet Jr and Ricardo Zonta in attendance, chose to stop testing after a few installation laps, other teams, with race drivers at their disposal used the wet conditions as an opportunity to evaluate the best set-ups for wet races.
Alongside second-placed Wurz, Williams fielded Nico Rosberg, who ended the session fifth fastest. And at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were in charge of testing duties. Raikkonen covered 88 laps to take fourth and Massa, who managed 48 laps, took seventh slot.
Honda’s Rubens Barrichello finished sixth in the RA107, after taking over from team mate Jenson Button, who ran on Wednesday. Barrichello was joined by IndyCar driver Marco Andretti, who tested the team’s RA106 for a second day and got his first taste of driving a Formula One car in the wet.
Toyota race driver Jarno Trulli and test driver Franck Montagny were eighth and ninth respectively in the team’s new car, the TF107. While Trulli took charge of testing an updated transmission, Montagny took advantage of the rainy conditions to evaluate Bridgestone’s wet tyres.
“It was an interesting day because we did a lot of laps and that was just what we needed,” commented the Frenchman. “We were able to evaluate a lot of information from the wet and extreme wet tyres after working on settings and tyre pressures. Now if it is raining in Melbourne for the first race we will be well prepared!”
For the third day in succession both Red Bull drivers, Mark Webber and David Coulthard, were in action in RB3s. While Webber finished 11th, Coulthard took 10th after covering 69 laps. Although both have been hampered during the three-day test by a variety of issues, including a drive shaft failure and a gearbox glitch, the team were pleased with the progress of their Adrian Newey-designed 2007 challenger.
“It was still a productive test, during which we got through all our planned programme and made progress over the three days," explained Ian Morgan, the team’s chief test engineer. "The working relationship with Renault continues to grow and we got on top of our problems, covering a respectable mileage."
Meanwhile, both McLaren drivers seemed to struggle in the wet conditions with tester Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso ending the day in 12th and 13th respectively. De la Rosa completed a limited programme, while Alonso, who had evaluated Bridgestone’s wet tyres in Valencia last week, stayed out for just nine laps in the MP4-22.
Testing resumes at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya next week, with a three-day session scheduled to begin on Monday, February 12.
Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:29.497
2. Alexander Wurz, Williams, 1:30.034
3. Timo Glock, BMW Sauber, 1:30.211
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:30.565
5. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:30.687
6. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:30.687
7. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:30.689
8. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:30.981
9. Franck Montagny, Toyota, 1:31.027
10. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:31.166
11. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:31.405
12. De La Rosa, McLaren, 1:31.477
13. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:31.570
14. Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:32.397
15. Ricardo Zonta, Renault, no time
16. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, no time