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Testing update - Montagny puts Renault top 03 Dec 2003

Franck Montagny (FRA) Renault Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Magny-Cours, France, 4 July 2003

This week's testing kicked off on Tuesday with the start of sessions in Barcelona and Jerez. Four teams were present at the former and it was Renault test driver Franck Montagny who topped the times, outpacing the new McLaren of David Coulthard.

Montagny's best of 1m 16.329 was around three tenths quicker than Coulthard's MP4-19. The Frenchman's programme centred on tyre work, but he also continued testing suspension developments which were first run at Valencia last week.

Formula Renault V6 champion, Jose-Maria Lopez, got his first Formula One outing with Renault as part of the team's driver development programme. The Argentinean put in 60 laps before an engine failure robbed him of what had looked set to be his best time of the day.

"'J-Lo', as he has been christened, had a very productive run: he made no mistakes, gave us very good chassis feedback and set reasonable lap-times," said Pat Symonds, Renault's Executive Director of Engineering. "He was unfortunate to have an engine failure on what was going to be his quickest lap by some margin, and which would have been close to the target we had set him."

Jaguar had their newly-confirmed 2004 line-up on track with Mark Webber third quickest, over a second ahead of his new team mate, Christian Klien. Toyota also had two men in action - test drivers Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe - who were fifth and sixth fastest respectively.

Weather conditions are expected to be poor when the Barcelona test continues on Wednesday. So much so that Renault said they plan to assess the circuit conditions before continuing the running of Lopez and the other member of the Renault Driver Development Programme due to test, Heikki Kovalainen.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Barcelona:
1. Franck Montagny, Renault, 1:16.336
2. David Coulthard, McLaren, 1:16.609
3. Mark Webber, Jaguar, 1:17.175
4. Alexander Wurz, McLaren, 1:17.252
5. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, 1:17.653
6. Ryan Briscoe, Toyota, 1:18.189
7. Christian Klien, Jaguar, 1:18.248
8. Jose-Maria Lopez, Renault, 1:18.897

Williams began their three-day programme at Jerez, with team regulars Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gene being joined by Nelsinho Piquet, son of the three-times world champion, in his first ever Formula One test. It was Schumacher who set the benchmark, as he concentrated on tyre testing for Michelin. He comfortably outpaced Gene, whose focus was new engine and gearbox development.

Meanwhile, Piquet, watched by his famous father, put in over 60 laps of the Spanish circuit, despite a minor off during the morning, and finished the day three seconds down on Schumacher. He hands over to Nico Rosberg, son of Keke, on Wednesday.

Williams will be joined at Jerez on Wednesday by Jordan, who this week will be testing with Nick Heidfeld, young Czech driver Jarek Janis and, on Friday, 2003 driver Ralph Firman.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Jerez:
1. Ralf Schumacher, Williams, 1:17.453
2. Marc Gene, Williams, 1:18.326
3. Nelsinho Piquet, Williams, 1:20.453