Next week should provide the first opportunity for several weeks to compare the expected 2008 front runners – McLaren and Ferrari. However teams are expecting rain at the Circuit de Cataluntya, which could leave us in some suspence about exactly who is quickest as the first race approaches.
But as far as Jarno Trulli is concerned, Ferrari are miles ahead.
BMW showed decent pace at Jerez but generally seemed a couple of tenths off the Williamses and Red Bulls. Nick Heidfeld experienced some new car glitches on Tuesday, one of which caused his car to stop on his way out of the pits.
They were one of several teams to report that the wind affected their ability to test new aerodynamic parts and caused them to abandon long-distance runs on Wednesday. Afterwards Heidfeld sounded much more confident than he had been earlier in the year:
It feels a lot better than at the very first test. I really believe in its potential. If you look at how much we have improved from the first test to here I really believe there’s more potential.
Fernando Alonso only appeared on Wednesday, his place on the other two days taken by test driver Lucas di Grassi while Nelson Piquet Jnr did the full three days. Piquet’s 1’19.660 ranked a ninth overall, Alonso 11th with a 1’19.710. Piquet’s car also broke down on Wednesday, oil dripping from the back of his R28.
Piquet focused on long runs, covering two race distances in the first two days, as well as practising installation laps, starts, and pit-stops. Alonso was delayed by car problems on Wednesday morning but was able to test new parts in the afternoon.
Di Grassi also had car problems on Thursday morning but once these were fixed he was able to carry out tests on brakes later on.
Williams and Red Bull were the only two teams to test for four days, starting their programmes on Monday. This gave them the opportunity to do long runs with less chance of interruption by red flags. They ran another new livery as part of their series of different designs for the off season commemorating their 30th year in the sport.
The team quickly dispelled any suggestions of further problems relating to the front wing failure they suffered at the Circuit de Catalunya. There were no repeat failures yet the car remained quick. Over the four days Nico Rosberg was fourth quickest of all with a 1’19.091.
But Kazuki Nakajima looked rapid as well, faster than Rosberg on their first two days together before Nico Hulkenberg took over from Rosberg on the final day. Nakajima’s best time after testing for four days was 1’19.117. They look like the best of the rest.
Red Bull continued to use the long engine cover that first appeared on the RB4 at the Circuit de Catalunya. The team racked up over 800 laps, more than any other, as they bid to rid themselves of the reliability problems that dogged them in last year.
Mark Webber was fastest of all on Wednesday with a 1’18.628 on what looked like a qualifying run. David Coulthard was even quicker on the final day – his 1’18.485 ranking second overall ahead of Webber.
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
The team ran race distance tests with revised front suspension on both cars. But they were frustrated by several problems on the last day – Vettel had separate problems with his clutch and electrics, and Sebastien Bourdais suffered a water leak.
The RA108 may not have looked fast but the drivers were surprisingly positive after the Jerez test. Jenson Button said:
To me it’s been the best test we’ve had so far this year. We are finding a good direction. There’s still a lot of work we need to do to be competitive with the cars in front but we’ve sorted our reliability out. Our reliability is very good. Now it’s just waiting for some new aerodynamic parts to make a bigger improvement.
Positivity is all well and good, but Button’s fastest time of 1’20.988 was over three-tenths slower than Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India.
Barrichello’s programme on Tuesday and Wednesday focused on evaluating set-ups while Alexander Wurz worked on improving the cars’ driveability. Button did aerodynamics work on Wednesday (which culminated in the team switching back to an earlier version of rear wing) then on Thursday he and Wurz completed full race distances.
Actually being present at a test marked progress for Super Aguri as uncertainty continues to surround their participation in the 2008 championship. Takuma Sato drove on Tuesday and Wednesday but, as an indication of how far the team are behind, he was working on acclimatisation with the standard ECU which many teams had conducted weeks ago.
He was realistic about the situation:
It has been hard for us, of course. But we’ve got over a lot of difficulties in the past few years, and I think this team can make up for the loss we have had in the last few weeks. I hope the next tests will be a success.
Anthony Davidson drove on the final day and said he was “confident” he would be racing for the team this year. His 1’21.010 was the fastest for the team, and only a few hundredths slower than Button’s Honda.
Force India only had one car running for the three days and split it between race drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil (Thursday and Wednesday) and test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi (Tuesday). Fisichella showed some promise with a 1’20.669 but on race pace they seem to be vying with the Hondas and Super Aguris.
Liuzzi worked on the brakes and four-race gearbox, but Sutil struggled with the winds on Wednesday. He said: “It was difficult to do any real work on set-up as we had planned. Sometimes the balance was good, sometimes it was bad and you just couldn’t tell very much from the laps.”
The final specification VMJ01 will run for the first time at the Circuit de Catalunya next week.
McLaren were the fasest team in testing at Jerez and once again it was Heikki Kovalainen who led the way. His 1’17.974 on Thursday in qualifying trim was half a second faster than anyone else managed.
Pedro de la Rosa had his first run in the car in over a month, partnering Lewis Hamilton on the first day of the test before Kovalainen took over from the Spanish driver. Hamilton tested aerodynamic parts developed since the last test and the team flew out further parts from the base in England during the week.
The car will spend just seven more days on the track before being shipped out to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix.
Jerez testing times
1 Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23 – 1’17.974
2 David Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault RB4 – 1’18.485
3 Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault RB4 – 1’18.628
4 Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota FW30 – 1’20.945
5 Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 – 1’19.102
6 Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota FW30 – 1’19.215
7 Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 – 1’19.287
8 Robert Kubica, BMW F1.08 – 1’19.535
9 Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault R28 – 1’19.660
10 Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR2B – 1’19.688
11 Fernando Alonso, Renault R28 – 1’19.710
12 Sebastien Bourdais, Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR2B – 1’19.848
13 Nick Heidfeld, BMW F1.08 – 1’19.934
14 Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Ferrari VJM01 – 1’20.669
15 Jenson Button, Honda RA108 – 1’20.988
16 Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri-Honda SA07B – 1’21.010
17 Nico Hulkenberg, Williams-Toyota FW30 – 1’21.116
18 Rubens Barrichello, Honda RA108 – 1’21.133
19 Lucas di Grassi, Renault R28 – 1’21.200
20 Takuma Sato, Super Aguri-Honda SA07B – 1’21.376
21 Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India-Ferrari VJM01 – 1’21.553
22 Alexander Wurz, Honda RA108 – 1’21.605
23 Adrian Sutil, Force India-Ferrari VJM01 – 1’22.244
Jerez testing mileage
1 Red Bull – 810 laps, 3586km
2 Williams – 760 laps, 3365km
3 BMW Sauber – 655 laps, 2900km
4 Renault – 633 laps, 2802km
5 Honda – 528 laps, 2337km
6 McLaren – 508 laps, 2249km
7 Toro Rosso – 476 laps, 2107km
8 Super Aguri – 294 laps, 1301km
9 Force India – 275 laps, 1217km
Photos copyright: Force India F1 Team | Williams / LAT Photographic | Red Bull / GEPA | Red Bull / GEPA | Force India F1 team
More on 2008 F1 testing
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 1
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 2
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 3
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 4
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 5
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 6
- 2008 F1 testing round-up 7: Bahrain
- Video: F1 testing in Valencia (part 1)
- Video: F1 testing in Valencia and Jerez (part 2)
- Video: F1 testing at Barcelona (part 3)
- Video: F1 testing at Bahrain (part 4)