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Testing roundup 24 Apr 2003

Cristiano Da Matta (BRA) Toyota TF103.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, 18 April 2003

With the Formula One circus now back in Europe for the next few months, most teams have opted to cram in as much testing as possible.

On Tuesday Sauber's new recruit Neel Jani had his first taste of a Formula One car at Viarano. The 19-year-old Swiss conducted straight line tests and was thrilled to be driving at over 300kmph for the first time.

Over at Fiorano, Felipe Massa was putting the Ferrari F2003-GA through its paces in preparation for the car's debut at the Spanish Grand Prix. He did over 250km and put in a best time of 58.944.

At Mugello yesterday, the Ferrari team showed a glimpse of how high it will raise the bar when the "GA" is unleashed. Rubens Barrichello topped the timing sheets on a 1m21.661 with Ferrari test driver Luca badoer finishing just behind him. Barrichello's time was almost a second faster than Championship leader Kimi Räikkönen could manage in his McLaren MP4-17D.

Olivier Panis was fourth fastest in the Toyota TF103, as the Japanese team continued with its preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix. Panis finished the session narrowly ahead of his team mate Cristiano da Matta, who completed a staggering 92 laps.

The Jaguar team was also present at the Italian track, using up one of its 20 allocated testing days under the conditions of the limited testing agreement. Antonio Pizzonia, who is coming under increasing pressure to up his performance, had already spent one day at Silverstone prior to the San Marino Grand Prix. Webber was sixth fastest, ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the only Sauber present.

The BAR team was also at the session with both Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button finishing at the rear end of the timesheets. Pedro de la Rosa, was ninth fastest in the second McLaren MP4-17D, splitting the two BARs.

Meanwhile, over at Silverstone, Williams BMW continued its test programme. Despite a crash at Becketts, Juan Pablo Montoya posted the quickest time of 1m21.410, almost a second faster than Ralph Firman's Jordan Ford.

The Jordan and Renault teams, who, like Jaguar, signed the Heathrow agreement which limits testing outside Grand Prix weekends, took their first days from the 20 they are each allowed. Ralph Firman was evaluating different tyres and carried out aerodynamic tests.

Williams test driver Marc Gene finished the session in third, relegating Renault's tester Allan McNish to fourth and last spot on the timing sheets.