Schumacher Tests New Mercedes W01 at Rockingham

Michael Schumacher was the first driver to be given a shot at driving the new-chassis Mercedes W01 prior to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. As the Brackley based team confirmed it will use a longer-wheelbase chassis from the Barcelona race onwards, the car has reportedly been tested by the 7-time world champion at Rockingham.

The news was confirmed by Schumacher's new manager and spokesperson Sabine Kehm, who told the DPA news agency that her client drove the improved W01 on the combined oval and road course circuit team filming purposes (as in-season testing is banned by the FIA in Formula One).

Probably the reason why Mercedes GP chose the Rockingham circuit was because it is located in Northamptonshire, quite close to the team's headquarters in Brackley. According to the media reports, the 41-year old completed around 100 kilometers in the W01 during the aforementioned session, with the circuit being closed for the public.

We are looking forward to evaluating the impact (of the car developments) on our pace whilst remaining conscious that this is very much a first step in improving our competitiveness,” Ross Brawn was quoted as saying to the media before packing for Barcelona this week.

That makes Schumacher the only driver to “feel” the new car ahead of its official debut this weekend.

However, Mercedes GP is not the only team that used filming-purposed sessions to test the updates prepared for the Spanish Grand Prix, as Ferrari has done the same last weekend, at the Italian track of Vairano. Giancarlo Fisichella then tested the new F10, featuring inboard mirrors and a completely new F-duct system, which Ferrari plans to use in the Friday practice sessions at Barcelona.
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