Weather Hampers Teams at Barcelona

Kimi Raikkonen ended the final day of this week's test at Barcelona in Spain with the quickest time, but it appeared to matter little as most of the teams present were left cursing their luck after bad weather washed out most of the day

Weather Hampers Teams at Barcelona

With the dry morning running being briefly interrupted by a one-minute's silence in honour of the Pope, the teams found that predicted rain arrived earlier than expected with drizzle falling at 11am.

By midday the drizzle had turned into a downpour before stopping in the early afternoon. The track was left damp for most of the day, although an extra hour's extension at the end of the test allowed the teams a little bit of extra running on an almost completely dry circuit.

The mixed weather conditions meant the best times all came from the first laps of the day and meant little could be read into the performance of the teams.

Raikkonen edged out McLaren reserve driver Alexander Wurz by two tenths of a second before the day was spent mainly working on wet and intermediate tyre work for Michelin.

"The changeable weather conditions today meant that we could focus on both wet weather and intermediate tyre testing for Michelin, and the team worked well to change our programme from that which we had originally planned," said Raikkonen, who had also been trying some mechanical set-up modifications that Wurz had suggested.

Following his successful testing of the MP4-20 earlier this week, Wurz is now almost certain to be handed the second race seat at McLaren for San Marino if Juan Pablo Montoya is not fit to return.

The fact that it will be the Austrian and Raikkonen testing at Paul Ricard next week in two MP4-20s provides further evidence of the team's plans.

Sauber's Felipe Massa delivered some slightly improved form for the Swiss team with the third quickest time, at the end of a test that has been marred by the controversy over Jacques Villeneuve's running being cut short earlier in the week.

But after working on aerodynamic evaluation for most of the day, Massa's day was cut short by an engine failure on the main straight that resulted in his team packing up and leaving early.

And despite some progress being made by Massa on the troublesome C24, race engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara admitted the team still had not completed all the necessary work that they had hoped to.

"We found some conclusions for the aerodynamics at Imola and have completed our race preparation for the San Marino Grand Prix, but unfortunately we were not in the position to finish a few issues for the race in Barcelona," he said.

"Overall, we have found some results during our test this week, but we are still not at the pace we want to be and need to work for further improvements."

At Williams Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia worked on set-up and tyre work, with the only major drama being a brief spin by Antonio Pizzonia at Turn 7 - although he did not hit anything.

Vitantonio Liuzzi also had a spin, without damage, but the biggest incident of the day was a spectacular engine failure for Enrique Bernoldi in the BAR - which resulted in his Honda power-unit catching fire on the back straight.

The Brazilian's BAR teammate Takuma Sato spent the day trying to evaluate a new rear wing that forms part of the team's revised aero package.

World Champion Michael Schumacher spent the day focusing on wet weather work but Ferrari eventually decided to pack up early because they felt they had achieved all they could considering the rain.

The poor weather that blighted the day appeared to justify Renault's decision to start their three-day test early on Tuesday, and Toyota's to save one of their vital 30-days for later in the year.

Today's times:

Pos  Driver        Team-Engine         Tyres  Time     Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes     (M)  1:15.389   65
 2.  Wurz          McLaren-Mercedes     (M)  1:15.536   65
 3.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas      (M)  1:16.565   92
 4.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW         (M)  1:16.600   99
 5.  Pizzonia      Williams-BMW         (M)  1:16.615   59
 6.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari              (B)  1:16.870   28
 7.  Bernoldi      BAR-Honda            (M)  1:17.459   63
 8.  Sato          BAR-Honda            (M)  1:17.824  115
 9.  Badoer        Ferrari              (B)  1:18.041   24
10.  Liuzzi        Red Bull-Cosworth    (M)  1:18.151   61
All Timing Unofficial
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