The final test session of 2007 got underway today, this time the teams heading to Spain’s other test circuit, Jerez. The test will continue through Wednesday and Thursday before everybody breaks up for Christmas and heads home. However, despite the gloomy weather this session is important for many teams as they make final assessments on their 2008 driver line up. A lot of squads need to find a new test driver and Force India need to work out who to put in their cars for next year’s campaign.
So day one and Nick Heidfeld continues to make progress with the BMW, going fastest (on slick tyres) and beating Jenson Button’s Honda (also on slicks) by 0.1s. Seeing Jenson up in the tables is encouraging, although he was using the slick test tyre from Bridgestone, hopefully giving positive feedback to the Japanese manufacturer. McLaren’s Pedro De La Rosa pipped Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen into third, while Gary Paffett went seventh in the second McLaren and Marc Gene went ninth in the sister Ferrari.
Another driver showing encouraging signs is STR new-boy, Sebastien Bourdais. The Frenchman managed to set the sixth quickest lap in the Ferrari powered Red Bull Jr car and raked up an impressive 101 laps. Nelson Piquet Jr was also on hand in the Renault, running in fifth and 0.3s down on Raikkonen.
Of the confirmed 2008 regular drivers, and other than those already mentioned, Jerez saw action from Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Timo Glock and Kazuki Nakajima. Webber went well in the Red Bull leaving the circuit in sixth place and ahead of Gene’s Ferrari. Vettel shared testing duties with Bourdais and Glock did the majority of hard work today as the second BMW was driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota’s new test driver. Despite completing 114 laps – the most set by any driver today – Kamui was largely getting used to Formula One machinery and thus wasn’t setting particularly quick times.
Williams ran new German star Nico Hulkenberg to assess his capabilities as a test driver, since the Grove team promoted Nakajima to a race seat for next year. And Force India viewed Giancarlo Fisichella and Franck Montagny as both drivers try and extend their careers. Renault allowed Fisichella to test as it is expected for the Italian to be dropped from the Anglo-French squad, irregardless of Alonso’s decision.
And on a note of slight humour, while BMW topped the table with Heidfeld, they also hogged the bottom with Marco Asmer going third slowest and Javier Villa propping the sheet in twentieth and last place. BMW are also on the prowl fr a new test driver having lost Glock to Toyota.
Tomorrow should see Ralf Schumacher in the Force India alongside STR refugee Vitantonio Liuzzi. Klien was meant to be driving today, but alas he wasn’t so possibly he will be given another shot either on Wednesday or Thursday.
|3.||Pedro De La Rosa||McLaren||1m19.712s||Grooved|
|5.||Nelson Piquet Jr||Renault||1m20.366s||Grooved|
|6.||Sebastien Bourdais||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m20.615s||Grooved|
|8.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1m20.682s||Grooved|
|10.||Mike Conway||Super Aguri||1m20.927s||Grooved|
|11.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m21.060||Grooved|
|12.||James Rossiter||Super Aguri||1m21.246s||Slick|
|14.||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India||1m21.424s||Grooved|