Topics: Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton
May 21, 2007
To prepare for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix, Formula One teams have been testing their cars at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France. The said speedway is made to prepare drivers for the twists and turns of the circuit in Monaco.
During the first day of tests, the British rookie driver Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest lap at 1:05.699 in his run which covered less than a hundred laps. The leading driver in the standings continued his good performance by setting the fastest lap during the second day of testing at the same circuit. He recorded a faster time lap than his previous outing by setting the time record at 1:05.614. The British driver focused on the aerodynamics of his car at the tests as well as the tires.
The next fastest lap for the day is set by this season’s only multiple winner - Felipe Massa who is driving for Ferrari. He focused on the tires used on his car as well as the overall set up. During the first day of testing, Massa only achieved the sixth fastest lap. While taking wins on two races this season, the Bahrain and Spanish Grand Prix, Massa is only on the third spot at the driver’s championship standings with 27 points to his credit. He is three points behind Hamilton and a single point behind two-time defending champion Fernando Alonso. This is due to his non-podium finish at the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix. But the current trend shows that Massa is improving his performance. This means that he is a considerable threat to team McLaren come raceday in Monaco.
The third fastest lap was set by the Pole Robert Kubica driving for team BMW Sauber. The driver focused on aerodynamics, electronics and set up of his car. The cars that BMW fields for the season have the chassis designation of F1.07 and use BMW P86/7 engines. These engines and chassis may not be as known to many as they know BMW cargo liners are but the engine is based heavily on the very unit that the team used for the 2006 Formula One season. The team has so far won four fourth place finishes after four races this season. That achievement is enough to give them the third spot at this year’s constructor’s championship standings.
Veteran Formula One driver David Coulthard recorded the fourth fastest lap for the day. The Scottish driver currently drives for team Red Bull. At the tests, he concentrated on the tires, suspension and aerodynamics of his car. He currently ranks number nine on the driver’s championship standing with four points to his credit. The four points came after his fifth place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix. That marked the first time that he finished a race this season. The first three races of the season were not good for Coulthard as he was forced to retire after meeting problems in his car. He aims to increase his points at the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix and his fourth fastest lap time makes him a serious competitor at the upcoming race.
Meanwhile, Finn Heikki Kovalainen who is driving driving for team Renault recorded the sixth fastest time. The driver is currently number eleven on the driver’s standings with 3 points. He has only finished two races this season - the Malaysian Grand Prix where he placed eighth and the Spanish Grand Prix where he placed seventh. At the Malaysian and Bahrain Grand Prix, he was forced to retire. After the tests, team Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk has this to say: “We completed a trouble-free day without any difficulty, and ran through a wide range of set-up solutions that we wanted to test. I think the data from today looks good, and will be a good basis for our work in Monaco and at the next races.”
For Williams, the test team manager Dickie Stanford, explained the team’s strategy. “Alex Wurz took over from Nico and spent the session finishing the Monaco set-up programme,” he said. “Tomorrow, the circuit will be modified to reflect the Montreal track layout and we will be converting the car accordingly this evening so we can work on preparation for the race there.”
Driving for Toyota, Ralf Schumacher failed to duplicate his second fastest lap set during the first day of setting the second fastest lap. During the second day, he was only the ninth fastest. “Today I finished my aerodynamic and tire programs and also worked on the different traction control maps that are used where there is a premium on acceleration out of slow corners,” says the German driver. “We have got through a lot of work over the past couple of days, which is important when the competition is so tight,” he added. Schumacher is currently struggling in the season with only a single point to his credit. If he wants to get back to winning races he needs to start at the Monaco Grand Prix. His team recently slipped to the sixth spot after a double retirement at the Spanish Grand Prix. This came after the announcement that they will be aiming to overtake BMW Sauber as the third best team this season.