Fisi ends Silverstone test on top
Giancarlo Fisichella completed a highly successful three-day test for Renault by topping the times at Silverstone on Thursday. The Italian improved on team-mate Fernando Alonso’s Wednesday benchmark by just over a tenth of a second, upping the ante to 1m18.518s and completing a mammoth 121 laps despite 12 red-flag interruptions in the course of the day.
Fisichella and test driver Heikki Kovalainen both worked on Michelin tyre development, the Finn’s 1m19.103s leaving him fourth on the timing charts.
The Renaults were split by Honda’s Rubens Barrichello and McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen. Barrichello’s second fastest time will be a welcome fillip for the Brazilian as he continues to adjust to the braking characteristics of the RA106, although it was set on a one-off flier rather than on the long runs which have caused Honda more problems this year. Raikkonen had his first run with the latest specification Mercedes engine that he will campaign at next weekend’s European Grand Prix, having had to use the standard version on Wednesday while the unit that failed in Pedro de la Rosa’s car was repaired.
Christian Klien was an encouraging fifth fastest for Red Bull Racing, with team-mate David Coulthard ninth and first man in the 1m20s bracket. RBR has continued to battle reliability problems throughout the test, but team boss Christian Horner put gearbox gremlins down to the development process and claimed the team was leaving Silverstone in a much more confident frame of mind.
Williams focused on Bridgestone compound evaluation as well as putting some mileage on revised clutch parts and new brake materials. Both Mark Webber (10th fastest) and Alex Wurz (13th) also tried out different wing configurations as this was the team’s first test at Silverstone with V8 engines.
Young German driver Adrian Sutil was in action for the Midland team, but his day ended almost before it had begun with a suspected mechanical problem.
Kovalainen, Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) and Christijan Albers (Midland) all stopped at various points with apparent technical problems. Vitantonio Liuzzi was back in action after his big crash on Wednesday but returned to his regular Toro Rosso mount rather than the Red Bull RB2.