Drivers keen to get to grips with their 2008 cars and get some laps under their belts faced initial disappointment on the first day of the latest F1 testing session at the 2.75-mile Jerez circuit.
Heavy overnight rain that continued into the morning hampered testing by the nine Formula One teams that were present on Monday.
As a result morning runs were scaled back until track water cleared. However the disappointment did not last too long after brighter afternoon weather allowed them to try laps on dry tyres.
It did give drivers their first go at traction control-free, wet-weather driving – the subject of a good deal of discussion recently on safety grounds.
When things hotted up Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa for Ferrari pulled off a comfortable one-two with Pedro de la Rosa putting in the third-best time for McLaren, seven-tenths of a second behind the leader.
Fourth in his Toro Rosso was Sebastian Vettel, splitting the silver-coloured cars as Heikki Kovalainen put in the fifth-best time of the day with a lap that was just over two-tenths of a second slower than his.
McLaren said of the day’s testing: “With heavy rain leaving the track very wet [the team] limited their testing programme in the morning to carrying out sign-off tests on some of the new components on Heikki’s car with Pedro not leaving the garage apart from his installation lap first thing.
“Once the track dried out in the afternoon the focus moved to longer runs, working on general set ups for the MP4-23.”
Rosberg, Trulli and Piquet, for BMW, Toyota and Renault respectively, started to sketch the outlines of the upcoming fight for the middle ground while David Coulthard in his Red Bull was tenth.
His fastest lap time, in a 2007 car with no traction control or engine braking, was 1.9 seconds behind Raikkonen’s and, while few useful inferences can be drawn from a single day of testing in the wet, this might hint at the scale of the task Red Bull’s engineering team is facing in upgrading to the RB4.
Red Bull’s view of the day was this: “Overnight rain continued into the morning, giving David his first chance of driving in the wet without any traction control and engine braking.
“Conditions were changeable throughout the day as the track took a while to dry fully and the technical programme centred mainly on the continuation of validating engine and gearbox operation with this year’s common Electronic Control Unit.”
Super Aguri hit immediate problems as plans to evaluate cooling options on the interim car, the SA07B-06, were called off after a hydraulic problem arose. The team was forced the team to wait a day for spare parts and test driver James Rossiter’s quick lap,1:34.862 on wet tyres, was the slowest of the day.
Jerez test times 14/01/08:
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:19.845 (59 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:20.123 (43 laps)
- Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren: 1:20.548 (54 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:20.732 (40 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:20.936 (49 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:20.997 (47 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:21.143 (47 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:21.344 (86 laps)
- Nelson A. Piquet, Renault: 1:21.595 (41 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:21.745 (51 laps)
- Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India: 1:23.035 (44 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:23.134 (42 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:24.351 (58 laps)
- James Rossiter, Super Aguri: 1:34.852 (10 laps)