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Sato tops Jerez testing 17 Mar 2003

Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR Test Driver 
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 7 March 2003

Once a programme of tyre testing and preparation for the Malaysian Grand Prix had been completed, Takuma Sato was let off the leash to set fastest time in last week's testing at Jerez de la Frontera.

On Friday the Japanese test driver lapped his BAR Honda 005 in 1m 18.672s, while covering 86 laps. Ralf Schumacher was next up in the BMW Williams FW25 on 1m 18.729s and 70 laps, and Olivier Panis was third for Toyota with 1m 18.983s over 67.

The two McLaren Mercedes drivers. Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa, concentrated on preparation work and lapped in 1m 19.387s and 1m 19.635s respectively. Wurz covered 115 laps, de la Rosa 100.

On Saturday the track was artificially wetted for Michelin tyre testing. Wurz was fastest on 1m 26.409s from Marc Gene (BMW Williams) on 1m 28.239s and Panis on 1m 28.660s.

At Fiorano, Bridgestone also completed an intensive test programme with Ferrari test driver Felipe Massa. The Brazilian lapped in a personal best of 57.066s on Friday, and then 57.920s on Saturday, driving an F2002.

"I learned so much this past week," the former Sauber Petronas racer said. "The car feels wonderful to drive, and I am learning every time I step into it. Working for Ferrari like this is a dream come true."