Barcelona Testing, Day 1 Round-up

Focus was firmly on the McLaren team in Spain, with the MP4-22 showing off a radical, new front wing. Driver Alonso played down the significance of the new look, claiming that “everyone’s cars will improve by two or three tenths – I doubt the hierarchy will change too much.” Test driver de la Rosa also played down the new wing, saying that “many other new features” have also been added to the MP4-22. He also added that the “championship really begins now”. Spain is the first lef in the start of the European part of the season, and titles tend to be won or lost on what happens in Europe.

Meanwhile, Ferrari quietly rolled out some new sidepods for their F2007 car, with some F1 followers claiming that the new sidepods are in fact more significant than the MP4-22 wing updates. It is believed that Ferrari’s new sidepods have been reshaped and made smaller to aid a new cooling system for the car.

It seems that Ferrari’s new package is working well for them, with Kimi Raikkonen topping the timesheets on Day One by an impressive 0.7 seconds. His fastest lap was 1:21.194, and he also clocked up the next five fastest laps too. Suprisingly, the second fastest driver of the day was Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri, who managed a time of 1:21.858. The Super Aguri was kitted out with a gearbox upgrade and some new aerodynamics, both of which look like they are working well.

Pedro de la Rosa was third fastest in his MP4-22, followed by Ralf Schumacher and then Nick Heidfeld. Rubens Barrichello finished sixth, suggesting that Honda have made some progress. Honda have had a poor start to the season, and although they were over a second slower than the Super Aguri of Takuma Sato, they appear to be making some headway.

During the testing, there was a lot of drama. Adrian Valles, test driver for Spyker, crashed heavily at Turn 3 late in the afternoon, reportedly impacting at over 240 km/h. His dash-light, a new obligatory innovation for the 2007 season, meant he earnt himself a trip to hospital although he was not seriously hurt. Following some tests, he was released later in the day. The Spyker car has sustained heavy damage but the team are hopeful they can repair the damage in time to allow Adrian Sutil to take over for Day 2 of testing. Mike Gascoyne commented that, “It looks as though he had a problem with the car through Turn 1 and then lost control through 3.”

Meanwhile, Ralf Schumacher turned on the pace and finished top. It later transpired that he had cut a chicane meaning his Toyota was demoted to fourth place.

Williams’ driver Kuzuki Nakajima also brought two red flags out to the session. The first time, he had a mechanical problem, causing the car to stop; the second red flag was for a crash at Turn 9. Williams’ test manager Dickie Stanford confirmed that the car was not badly damaged and Nakajima was unhurt. “He’s OK,” he said. “The car will be fine to run tomorrow.”

Rain is predicted for Day 2 at the Circuit de Catalunya. Should the rain spoil running, team managers will extend the testing by an extra day.

Testing times from Barcelona, Day 1

1.  RAIKKONEN      Ferrari      1m21.194s
2.  SATO           Super Aguri  1m21.858s
3.  DE LA ROSA     McLaren      1m21.906s
4.  SCHUMACHER     Toyota       1m21.983s
5.  HEIDFELD       BMW          1m22.114s
6.  BARRICHELLO    Honda        1m22.655s
7.  PIQUET         Renault      1m22.763s
8.  LIUZZI         Toro Rosso   1m22.771s
9.  COULTHARD      Red Bull     1m22.973s
10. VALLES         Spyker       1m23.699s
11. NAKAJIMA       Williams     1m24.241s
12. VAN DER GARDE  Spyker       1m24.997s