McLaren have had some good news about their prospects for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton put in the fastest lap on the first day at a test circuit set up to replicate the challenges of the streets of Monaco.
The F1 teams will be heading to the Principality fresh from a three-day testing stint at the specialised F1 test track Circuit Paul Ricard in the nearby south of France.
On day one, while teams were trying out high-downforce configurations suitable for Monaco, Lewis Hamilton put in a fastest lap time of 1:05.600.
According to the team, he was working on set-up development, tyre testing and evaluation of the aero package.
But Kimi Raikkonen proved that Ferrari will be a powerful threat to McLaren’s chances, coming second with a fastest lap time of 1:06.098.
BMW’s Robert Kubica was third on 1:06.177 and Red Bull’s Mark Webber fourth on 1:06.348. Alexander Wurz was seventh for Honda.
On day two, with the track still configured to mimic conditions in Monte Carlo, Ferrari had their revenge.
Raikkonen posted a fastest lap of 1:05.381. But fellow Finn Kovalainen was less than a tenth of a second behind him for McLaren.
Once again both BMW and Red Bull did well with Robert Kubica on 1:05.905 and David Coulthard on 1:06.001 despite experiencing technical problems. And Jenson Button was fifth for Honda on 1:06.091.
On day three the circuit set-up was changed to mimic the faster track and low-downforce conditions at Montreal, Canada, the sport’s next stop after Monaco.
The surprise victor in showery conditions that stopped some teams testing past lunchtime was Toyota’s Jarno Trulli with a fastest time of 1:31.360. Just behind him was Renault’s Nelson A Piquet on 1:31.634.
Pedro de la Rosa was third for McLaren while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa came a surprise fifth behind Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel.
Nick Heidfeld was sixth for BMW while Sebastian Buemi was seventh for Red Bull. Jenson Button for Honda was ninth.