Just to remind us that McLaren can’t expect to have everything their own way at the upcoming German Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa ended the silver cars’ reign with a fastest lap on the final day of Hockenheim testing.
Massa topped the unofficial timesheet as the only driver to clear the sub-1:15 mark, squeaking under the barrier with a fastest time of 1:14.989 on a warm day during which the teams largely focused on race set-up.
But there was good news for British fans after Jenson Button pulled off a surprise second. Even more surprising was the fact that his Honda RA108 was less than one-tenth of a second behind the Ferrari on 1:15.081 as he worked on the aerodynamic, mechanical and engine updates that the team plans to introduce at the Grand Prix.
McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was third, getting behind the wheel after two days in which team-mate Lewis Hamilton had topped the standings. His time was 1:15: 289, some three-tenths of a second behind Massa.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber was fourth, Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel fifth and Renault’s Fernando Alonso sixth. BMW’s Robert Kubica produced a subdued performance, bringing his car in eighth out of the ten runners and around nine-tenths of a second off Massa’s pace.
McLaren confirmed in its test report that Kovalainen had worked on new aerodynamic and mechanical components and evaluated race set-ups.
It said that the next period of testing for the team would be back at Jerez at the end of July – although Ferrari will be testing at an Italian track almost immediately.
In its test report Honda said: “Warm and sunny conditions greeted the arrival of Jenson Button for day three of the test.
“He completed a total of 121 laps in a continuation of the upgrade evaluation programme, together with the simulated race starts and live refuelling where the team addressed the issues which created a problematic second pitstop for both drivers in last weekend’s race.”
Button himself said: “My day in the car was very productive and we did a lot of useful aerodynamic work and long-run comparisons with the different tyre compounds.
“The new parts we tested were positive and we achieved a lot during my 121 laps. As always we won’t really know how much of an improvement the developments will bring until we are into the race weekend, but I’m looking forward to coming back here next week.”
Red Bull said that Mark Webber had been preparing for the German Grand Prix and working on tyre comparisons.
The driver added: “We ran reliably, which was a good thing because it meant we got through a lot of work. It’s been hard work, but productive.
“Now we have plenty of data to study for the next race, which I think will be as close as ever, but we will of course be trying to repeat the form we showed on Friday and Saturday at the British Grand Prix.”
Day three timesheet
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:14.989 (109 laps)
- Jenson Button, Honda: 1:15.081 (121 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:15.289 (123 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:15.378 (118 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:15.556 (115 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:15.593 (119 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:15.759 (118 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:15.869 (107 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:16.065 (129 laps)
- Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India: 1:16.113 (74 laps)