Raikkonen tops Barcelona timesheets, confirming Ferrari's strong form

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    Raikkonen tops Barcelona timesheets, confirming Ferrari's strong form

    Post by Ross on 10th March 2009, 14:47

    Ferrari show their pace in Spain

    Kimi Raikkonen sent out a signal to Ferrari’s rivals ahead of the new season by comfortably topping the second day testing times at Barcelona on Tuesday.

    However, the world champion team’s performance was slightly blotted by the return of reliability glitches on its F60 car – with a small leak in its KERS cooling system meaning the team had to cut short its simulation of a grand prix weekend.

    Nevertheless despite completing just 55 laps Raikkonen’s time of 1m20.314s was still good enough to keep him almost 0.6s clear of Williams’s Kazuki Nakajima and the Brawn GP team, as the Brackley squad again caught the eye.

    And ominously for the rest of the grid, Raikkonen – who now hands the F60 over to Felipe Massa for the remaining two days – says Ferrari has yet to unleash the car’s full raw pace.

    "I'm happy with how the car works now, so far it's been good,” he told reporters afterwards.

    “We haven't pushed 100% to try to do any special lap times but car is handling well and I'm happy with it."

    Behind Raikkonen it was again an interesting picture, with Nakajima putting Williams as high as it has been on a pre-season timesheet recently and the returning Rubens Barrichello starring for Brawn.

    Again it was the former Honda squad’s performance that will hit the headlines, with it adding a further 111 laps-worth of mileage to the BGP 001 following the 82 it racked up on its official track debut on Monday.

    Barrichello had been not been in an F1 cockpit since the Brazilian Grand Prix in early November but showed no rustiness on his return to shave two tenths off team-mate Jenson Button’s opening day time to clock 1m20.966s.

    Jarno Trulli was a steady fourth for Toyota and yet again enjoyed bullet-proof reliability from the TF109 to complete 121 laps in total, including a series of long runs.

    The Italian now signs off from track duties until the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks time and is confident that when Melbourne comes around the team is ready to attack the front of the field after an impressive pre-season.

    "Today was my last day of testing for the winter,” he said.

    “We again did a lot of laps including some interesting long runs as we finalised our preparations for Melbourne.

    “It's clear we will only find out the true picture in Australia but I'm happy with our work in the course of the tests we've done.

    “The car has been competitive and consistent so we can head into the first race with confidence. I feel ready."

    Mark Webber was sixth for Red Bull and only just completed a race distance (66 laps) after the team took time to identify and resolve a mechanical gremlin on the RB5.

    BMW, meanwhile, had no such reliability concerns and Nick Heidfeld wrapped up his own on-track preparations for Melbourne during a mammoth 127 laps.
    The day one pacesetter didn't set a time within a second of his Monday benchmark but the team's focus was set on completing a run-through of a race, including pit stops, before evaluating further set-up options on the F1.09.

    Force India took seventh courtesy of Adrian Sutil, with the German again lapping faster than both Renault and the team's technical partner McLaren Mercedes in a best time of 1m21.834s.

    The Silverstone-based squad tried out some aero tweaks on its VJM02 and Sutil believes the team is making good progress with both reliability and tyre management.

    "We could do a lot of running again today, which was the main aim of the programme," Sutil said after 82 laps.

    "I feel a lot more confident in the car now we have got some reliability and can start to look at different set-ups and making the tyres work.

    "We know we have a lot of work to do, particularly with the tyres as we still struggle to bring them in, but we now have a good idea of how the car is behaving.

    "I'm looking forward to Melbourne now."

    Former world champion Fernando Alonso was making his first appearance of the week for Renault but his best effort of 1m21.937s was well off Raikkonen's pace.

    However both team and driver appeared content with it's day's work following 111 laps.

    McLaren’s second consecutive appearance towards the foot of the order may raise speculation that all is not well with the team’s MP4-24, although Heikki Kovalainen was much closer to the rest of the field than was the case on Monday – albeit still over 1.5s back on Ferrari.

    The Woking squad continued to assess the merits of the new front wing, floor and top body it has introduced onto the car for this week, with managing director Jonathan Neale saying Kovalainen's two days in the car had been "very productive" ahead of Lewis Hamilton's return on Wednesday.

    The team was spared another day at the foot of the timesheet by Toro Rosso who endured a problematic second full day of running with the STR4.

    Sebastien Bourdais had his day cut short after 14 laps after the team discovered a problem with the car’s front suspension, with parts needed to be shipped in from its Faenza base to fix the issue.

    So with its development plans for the day out of the window, it decided to give Sebastien Buemi his first experience of the 2009 car with the 20-year-old completing just six ‘in’ and ‘out’ laps in total.

    Testing times from Barcelona (Tuesday 10 March)

    1. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m20.314s
    2. NAKAJIMA Williams 1m20.907s
    3. BARRICHELLO Brawn 1m20.966s
    4. TRULLI Toyota 1m21.182s
    5. WEBBER Red Bull 1m21.347s
    6. HEIDFELD BMW 1m21.615s
    7. SUTIL Force India 1m21.834s
    8. ALONSO Renault 1m21.937s
    9. KOVALAINEN McLaren 1m21.991s
    10. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso 1m23.039s
    11. BUEMI Toro Rosso no time

    Source: itv.com/f1

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