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Pre-Europe testing roundup 23 Jun 2003

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams BMW FW25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Austrian Grand Prix, A1-Ring, Austria, 16 May 2003

Last week was a busy one for the Formula One teams, with major test sessions taking place at Silverstone in England and Jerez in Spain. Everyone was keen to make the most of their last on-track development opportunities ahead of this weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Williams finished top of the heap at Silverstone after a three-day session, but only after Ferrari had set the pace for the first two days. Juan Pablo Montoya was the man at the wheel, assessing new aero components for the Nurburgring race as well as working on set-up for the British Grand Prix later in the season. The Colombian also completed two race simulations during the session.

And while Montoya was busy at Silverstone, Williams testing colleague Marc Gene was hard at work at Jerez, spending four days exclusively on tyre development with Michelin.

"The development of the car is definitely progressing well from the aerodynamic and mechanical side so we're fairly confident of securing some more valuable points in the next few races," reported Williams' chief operations engineer Sam Michael.

World championship leaders Ferrari had three cars on track for each of the three days at Silverstone. Rubens Barrichello, pacesetter on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Michael Schumacher completed a programme of set-up work, electronics and tyre development in the F2003-GA, while test driver Felipe Massa conducted tyre work in last year's F2002. Luca Badoer also put in two days of running using both cars at Fiorano.

McLaren had all four drivers present at Jerez for a four-day programme using both the current MP4-17D and the new MP4-18. The week got off to a difficult start when Alexander Wurz heavily crashed one of the new cars. The Austrian was unhurt, but did not return to the cockpit until the final day, leaving David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa to continue the team's schedule of work.

Renault had a positive two-day test at Jerez, with Fernando Alonso topping the times on both days present. The French team completed a varied programme, which included tyre evaluation and set-up work for forthcoming races, as well as some 2004 development work. "In general, this was a very successful test in which we covered a high mileage," reported executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds.

BAR had a busy three days at Silverstone. Test driver Takuma Sato completed a mammoth 109 laps on day one, as he carried out mechanical development work and tyre evaluation for the British Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button then took over for days two and three, concentrating on aero work and tyres.

"We worked with some new aero parts to make some comparisons and develop the right package for the coming races," explained Villeneuve. "The results were positive, so I think we will be running the new aero bits at the Nurburgring. Although we had some mechanical problems, the car has been quick here in Silverstone so the test went well. We should be competitive at the next race."

Nick Heidfeld completed two days at Silverstone for Sauber before handing over to Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the final day. The Swiss team's programme included work on revised suspension and aerodynamic components for the forthcoming races and tyre evaluation on behalf of Bridgestone.

For Toyota, Cristiano da Matta spent three days at Jerez, wracking up well over 200 laps in the TF103 working on set-up and tyre evaluation. "It has been a good week and it has been useful to test here in Jerez because the track conditions are similar to those of the Nurburgring," said the Brazilian. "That makes the work we have done with Michelin valuable for next week's race."

The Japanese team also conducted a private three-day session at Paul Ricard in France with test driver Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis. Zonta completed 218 laps over the first two days, working closely with tyre suppliers Michelin. Panis spent the final day on long runs and engine testing for September's United States Grand Prix.

Finally, Jaguar carried out their European Grand Prix preparations with three days at Silverstone. Antonio Pizzonia was at the wheel for the first two days, carrying out set-up and tyre work. Mark Webber took over on Thursday to complete the British team's programme.