Testing roundup - positive start for McLaren 01 Dec 2003
Eight teams returned to Formula One testing last week and McLaren, the only constructor to debut its 2004 car, topped the times at the biggest session at Valencia. David Coulthard, at the wheel of the MP4-19, recorded a best lap of 1m 10.018s around the Spanish circuit.
The Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher were second and third. Along with test driver Marc Gene they completed over 2500 km of running, working on development of components for the new FW26. Both the new BMW P84 engine and transmission were thoroughly trialled.
"Ralf and Juan spent the test working on electronics, traction control, suspension set ups and tyre testing for Michelin," explained Chief Operations Engineer Sam Michael. "Manual starts and gear shifting were high on the test list as well given that they cannot be automatic in 2004. The majority of the components performed well and we will continue with mileage on these parts through the next few tests."
Renault had a positive week, with Jarno Trulli fourth fastest and test driver Franck Montagny eighth, while Justin Wilson was the quickest Jaguar driver in fifth. He edged out 2003 team mate Mark Webber, as well as the two youngsters who tried out for the team, Christian Klien and Townsend Bell.
Australian test driver Ryan Briscoe was Toyota's sole representative at Valencia. "I am very happy with how the team has worked and with the progress we have made this week," he said. "We managed to complete our test programme for the week, which consisted mainly of wet and dry weather Michelin tyre tests. To complete so much work and so many laps is always a good feeling at the end of a session. I found myself having to adapt to manual shifting again as we began our preparations for the 2004 season and the new regulations that will be introduced."
Toyota also conducted a private test session at Paul Ricard in France, with Ricardo Zonta putting in four days of running. "The test this week was essentially an installation run of our new TF103B car, which has a completely new rear end," commented the Brazilian. "We used the four days to get a feel for the new engine, gearbox and rear suspension and I was quite impressed with the new components, because we had no real problems all week. This is definitely a positive sign for the future. Having said that, it is difficult to draw any real conclusions of this first test with the new car, because there was some inconsistency with the weather conditions, which made it hard to do any back-to-back comparisons."
On Friday, McLaren, Williams, Renault and Toyota each fielded one car in a special wet-weather tyre test with suppliers Michelin. There was little to split the four teams in the times, but it was Alexander Wurz who ultimately went quickest for McLaren.
Unofficial best times from Valencia:
1. David Coulthard, McLaren, 1:10.018
2. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 1:10.081
3. Ralf Schumacher, Williams, 1:10.321
4. Jarno Trulli, Renault, 1:10.406
5. Justin Wilson, Jaguar, 1:10.504
6. Alexander Wurz, McLaren, 1:10.761
7. Marc Gene, Williams, 1:10.999
8. Franck Montagny, Renault, 1:11.031
9. Mark Webber, Jaguar, 1:11.260
10. Ryan Briscoe, Toyota, 1:11.928
11. Christian Klien, Jaguar, 1:11.935
12. Townsend Bell, Jaguar, 1:12.327
Meanwhile, the Barcelona test was dominated by Ferrari's Luca Badoer, the Italian going quickest on all three days. Close behind him was Jenson Button in BAR's '04 concept car, the team running on Michelin rubber for the first time.
Unofficial best times from Barcelona:
1. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:17.291
2. Jenson Button, BAR, 1:17.431
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:17.670
4. Takuma Sato, BAR, 1:17.707
5. Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber, 1:17.747
6. Luciano Burti, Ferrari, 1:17.790
See also: Tuesday test update
See also: Wednesday test update
See also: Thursday test update