Test drivers set pace as big guns shy away from circuit's demands

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The Independent Online

The weather gods smiled, the fans who came seemed happy, and the president of the FIA, the governing body of motor sport, Max Mosley said controversial things about limitations on engine development and reallocation of research budgets into lightweight hybrid technology. And most of the really quick drivers kept their powder dry to preserve their equipment on a demanding circuit.

In other words, there wasn't an awful of excitement at Silverstone yesterday as the British Grand Prix gathered pace.

No disrespect to Robert Kubica, who took his BMW-Sauber round in 1m 21.082s to set the day's fastest time - the young Pole is clearly going to make his mark as and when the Munich manufacturer gives him a regular race seat - but it was not a day to take too seriously when world champion Fernando Alonso was only seventh quickest, Michael Schumacher eighth, Jenson Button 17th and Kimi Raikkonen 21st. Today will see these grandees hitting their stride, in the practice and qualifying sessions that have been brought forward to avoid a televisual clash with the England v Paraguay.

It was not an uneventful day, though. Schumacher spun his Ferrari twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon; Alonso also spun as did Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

"More than ever, you need a balanced car here, and be quick and accurate," Button said.

At least nobody parked out on the course, something that continues to haunt Schumacher after Monaco. "He was punished for what he did and it was correct, so onwards and upwards really," said Mark Webber.