Toyota F1 rookie Timo Glock has given Lewis Hamilton something to think about on the third day of Jerez winter testing, after beating the McLaren driver’s fastest lap time by more than three-tenths of a second.
But the British ace did at least have the satisfaction of knowing that his former team-mate and constant arch-rival Fernando Alonso was looking up his exhaust pipe, metaphorically speaking.
Having topped the standings on his first day back at work Alonso’s fastest lap during this session was nearly three-tenths of a second slower than Hamilton’s, although unpredictable weather conditions may have affected performance for everyone.
Young Lewis needed to look on the bright side, after grounding the car twice, and then having to justify his unusually erratic driving to all comers.
He blamed the absence of engine braking and traction control for the fact that he put the car into the gravel.
Speaking after the test, he said: “Without these controls helping you on the entry to corners there is more locking of the rear wheels. But I think we’ve got off to a really good start.”
McLaren said of the day’s programme: “With more rain falling at the circuit today wet track conditions meant that, on top of the continuing development programme, the team took the opportunity to look into improving engine drivability and car handling with wet settings.
“In addition the MP4-23 has been running with the new FIA ECU codes and development of this was also a focus.
“Lewis had a couple of minor off-track excursions during the day due to changing track conditions. His car was not damaged and he was able to complete the test plan for the day.”
It was a subdued performance for Ferrari who, after putting in a particularly strong performance in wet conditions on the first day at Jerez, were confined on this occasion to times in the mid 1:20s.
Red Bull fans got their first look at the team’s new RB4 car as David Coulthard put it through its paces for the first time.
View photos of Red Bull’s RB4 launch here >> (link goes to Motorsport.com)
DC said of the car before getting behind the wheel: “It’s great to see a new car come together. Inevitably, a lot of parts were still arriving last night, so when I left for my bed it looked a bit bare, but this morning, there it was in all its glory!
“It looks super with lots of nice detail on it and given that it did its installation lap and came back to the garage, so far we have achieved all our targets! Now we have to build from there.”
Although in the event he was near the bottom of the unofficial timesheet, at 1:22.581 in 54 laps, car designer Adrian Newey said the team had satisfied its expectations by getting the car out on the track.
The team said of the launch: “Adrian Newey’s 2008 design – his second since joining Red Bull in 2006 as technical chief officer – was received with a lot of favourable comments by the press and the team drivers.
“Newey’s design has much to live up to, it comes from the man that created some of the most successful cars in F1.
“Red Bull 2007 entrant the RB3 suffered from reliability issues in the first part of the 2007 season. This year the RB4 car is an evolution of last year’s car and the team see continuity as the key to success this year.”
Team principal Christian Horner said: “The new car – for the first time in our short history – is an evolution.
“With continuity in the design group, this winter has been the smoothest that I’ve seen as the group have now worked together for over a year.”
Horner and Newey said they believed that marrying up the Renault engine with the car’s existing transmission had been a major cause of reliability problems – and that having continuity in the engine department for the first time in the team’s history would be a major step forward.
Newey added: “The reliability problems didn’t come as a result of chasing performance. They came through detailed design, manufacturing and operations faults and the reliability systems couldn’t cope.”
“We haven’t had to make any compromises in that respect, it is just a matter of understanding why things were failing and what was breaking down in the system to cause them.”
Well, as Mark Webber said in a BBC interview, it shouldn’t be too hard for the team to improve on last year’s model…
Jerez test times 16/01/08:
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:19.779 (96 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:20.099 (73 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:20.363 (49 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:20.407 (61 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:20.500 (85 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:20.535 (79 laps)
- Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota: 1:20.577 (53 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:20.646 (88 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:20.758 (57 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India-Ferrari: 1:21.705 (77 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:22.275 (53 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:22.581 (54 laps)
- Nico Hulkenberg, Williams 1:24.023 (65 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:24.873 (50 laps)