Topics: Lewis Hamilton
May 21, 2007
The first race for the 2007 Formula One season in European soil was just concluded recently but teams are already preparing for the next race of the season. The fifth race of the season and the second on European soil is the Grand Prix de Monaco. To prepare for the said race, teams and their respective drivers have camped out at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. The track resembles the Circuit de Monaco where the next race of the season will be held on the 27th of this month.
On the first day of the tests being done by Formula One drivers, team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes rookie Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap. The British driver who is currently leading the race for the driver’s championship covered only less than 100 laps but he recorded the best time at 1:05.699. The young driver is now the youngest ever Formula One driver to lead the driver’s championship.
The next fastest lap was recorded by Ralf Schumacher driving for Toyota which suffered from double retirement at the Spanish Grand prix. That poor showing cost them the third spot in the constructor’s championships. Schumacher’s best time was recorded at 1:06.920. Speaking after the tests where he covered 96 laps, the younger Schumacher has this to say: “The main focus of my test is to concentrate on detail work for Monte Carlo. The car was quite oversteery early in the day and that wasn't helped by the strong gusting winds that, at one point, were moving me over a couple of meters on the main straight. You sometimes get that on a motorway overtaking a lorry on a windy day but it's not a nice feeling at 200mph.”
“People talk about the strong Mistral wind in this part of the world and I certainly experienced it today. Sometimes the wind was so strong that you barely got top gear on the straight but when conditions were calmer we had a productive day, trying a number of set-ups as well as evaluating the super soft and soft tires for Monaco,” he continues. Ralf Schumacher has only a point to his credit after four races this season. He got the single point after placing eighth at the Australian Grand Prix which is the first race of the season.
At the Malaysian Grand Prix, he struggled and only came up with a 15th place finish. At the Bahrain Grand Prix he once again struggled, finishing the race but for no points since he finished in 12th. At the recently concluded Spanish Grand Prix he was forced to retire on Lap number 44 after having problems with his car’s suspension.
Meanwhile, the Test Team Manager for Toyota, Gerd Pfeiffer, has this to say after the tests: “We had a good day with no reliability issues and got through our programme. Ralf was happier with the set-up later in the day and it has provided a good base for what is an important test. With Monaco coming up we have also been running the super soft and soft Bridgestone tires. We have a busy schedule to get through, which Ralf will continue tomorrow while Franck Montagny takes over on Thursday and Friday.” Ralf Schumacher is driving the Toyota car using the TF107 chassis and equipped with a Toyota RVX-07 which is known for its high power output that EBC rotors are enough to stop it.
The third fastest driver at the test is Renault test driver Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian covered 125 laps throughout the day and recorded his fastest lap at 1:07.056. He has this to say after his achievement: “I am pleased to be driving an F1 car here. I know the circuit well from HP2, and it was interesting to see how it looked from the cockpit of the R27. I ran a lot today, just like in Barcelona last time out, and that's always a good thing. I think we made good progress, and it was a positive, encouraging day for the rest of the week.”
The fourth fastest lap time was recorded by Red Bull’s Mark Weber. At the second day of testing though, veteran Formula One driver David Coulthard took over his duties. Number five for the first test day is Williams’ Nico Rosberg.
Meanwhile, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, the first multiple winner this season, set the sixth fastest time during the first day of tests. Recently, the Brazilian driver admitted that Lewis Hamilton is a threat to them. On his website, the driver said that: “He (Hamilton) is definitely strong and is not bothered by pressure. At the moment, you cannot say that Fernando or him are the better driver. But if the situation continues like this, then maybe Lewis can even be more dangerous than Fernando, given his championship position and how he goes in the car. At the moment, he seems more comfortable in the car than Fernando. We need to keep an eye on that because he can be a dangerous threat.”
The reputation that the rookie has gained for himself in his budding Formula One career will be put to the test come race day in the track where Team McLaren holds the most wins since it opened in 1929. Hamilton’s teammate Fernando Alonso is last year’s winner at the said race when he was still driving for the now struggling Renault team.