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Testing update: new McLaren on track 22 May 2003

Alex Wurz (AUT) McLaren Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 22 March 2003

McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz put the first miles on the team's new car at Paul Ricard in France on Wednesday. Team boss Ron Dennis was on hand to see the Austrian complete 17 exploratory laps in the MP4-18 in preparation for a full test session on Thursday.

"The 2003 car is evolutionary is some respects but in other respects it's quite different," explained McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey. "We've tried to package the car tighter so it's a lot smaller than the MP4-17.

"We've really pushed quite hard to come up with an aerodynamically efficient package, which also allows a low centre of gravity. So we're trying to get the aerodynamics and the mechanical side of the car to work in harmony."

And while Wurz was getting accustomed to the new car, in the current McLaren Kimi Raikkonen was busy setting the day's fastest time (1m 11.255s), ahead of Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya (1m 11.453s) and McLaren team mate David Coulthard (1m 11.527s).

Marc Gene was fourth fastest in a second Williams (1m 12.033s), followed by Toyota's Olivier Panis (1m 12.858s), Renault's Allan McNish (1m 13.062s). Wurz completed the timesheets for McLaren (1m 16.118s).

For Renault it was the first of two days of running with McNish behind the wheel in preparation for the Monaco Grand Prix. The Scot worked on a new air intake system and evaluated two different engine specifications, one of which will be used in Monte Carlo.

Elsewhere, in Valencia Sauber and BAR were again on track, with Nick Heidfeld topping the times (1m 11.804s) after more than 100 laps of the Spanish circuit. The German driver concentrated on aerodynamic and set-up work for Monaco. Behind him there was little to separate the BARs of Jenson Button (1m 12.422s) and Jacques Villeneuve (1m 12.626s).

Finally, Ferrari continued their testing programme at Fiorano in Italy with Michael Schumacher at the wheel. The world champion completed 44 laps in the F2003-GA with a best time of 57.806s. He continues testing at the circuit on Thursday.

All times are unofficial.