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Testing roundup - new McLaren shines 14 Jul 2003

A McLaren mechanic stickers-up sets of tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Austrian Grand Prix, Preparations, A1-Ring, Austria, 15 May 2003

The new McLaren MP4-18 finally began to show its true potential on Friday when Alexander Wurz steered it to the fastest time of the week in testing at Barcelona.

The Austrian's best of 1m 17.616s was over half a second a quicker than the second-placed Ferrari of Luca Badoer, moving McLaren to the top of the timesheets in week that had, up to then, been dominated by Williams and Ferrari.

McLaren ran both the new car and the current MP4-17 in tandem throughout the week, with Kimi Raikkonen, David Coulthard and Pedro de la Rosa all on track. Despite the newfound pace of the MP4-18, the car suffered several technical problems during the week and the team has still to confirm when it will make its official race debut.

The on-form Williams team also had a very busy week as, like their rivals, they endeavoured to cram as much development work in as possible ahead of the forthcoming summer testing ban.

Williams completed over 4000km of running thanks to a four-day split testing programme in Barcelona and Ladoux, with four drivers in action. At Barcelona Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gene concentrated on set-up configurations and tyre selection in preparation for the British Grand Prix, as well as focusing on the aero and mechanical variables of the FW25. Estonian driver Marko Asmer also joined them for a day at the Spanish track, while in Ladoux, occasional Williams tester Olivier Beretta concentrated on a tyre programme for Michelin.

Ferrari had cars running at three circuits as they worked closely with tyre supplier Bridgestone. Luca Badoer and Rubens Barrichello topped the times at Barcelona on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, with Ralf Schumacher interrupting their reign on Wednesday.

The world champions were also in action at Fiorano and Mugello in Italy, with Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa continuing the intensive development programme of the F2003-GA and its Bridgestone tyres.

Allan McNish was the man at the wheel for Renault's three-day programme at Barcelona, which the team described as "successful" after the Scot racked up well over 300 laps, concentrating primarily on tyre development.

Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta shared the driving duties for Toyota's four-day Barcelona test, the Japanese team working on tyre choice for Silverstone and later races, and the evaluation of new aerodynamic, mechanical and engine developments.

BAR ran for three days at Barcelona, with Jenson Button, Jacques Villeneuve, Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson all taking the wheel of the 005. As well as general set-up, aero and tyre work, the team also got to test a new specification Honda V10, which they hope to use at Silverstone this weekend.

Sauber's four-day Spanish test was conducted by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani. The Swiss team completed a wide-ranging programme of work, including calibrating a new C-specification of their Petronas V10 engine.

Ralph Firman had exclusive responsibility for Jordan's two-day test, which saw the team conducting tyre development with Bridgestone as well as general set-up work ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, at Jaguar Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia shared their team's three-day programme, Webber running on Wednesday and Thursday, before handing over to the Brazilian on Friday.

Unofficial Friday times from Barcelona:

1. A.Wurz, McLaren, 1:17.616
2. L.Badoer, Ferrari, 1:18.316
3. R.Schumacher, Williams, 1:18.402
4. D.Coulthard, McLaren, 1:18.678
5. A.McNish, Renault, 1:18.753
6. O.Panis, Toyota, 1:18.775
7. K.Raikkonen, McLaren, 1:19.005
8. J.Villeneuve, BAR, 1:19.011
9. M.Gene, Williams, 1:19.417
10. T.Sato, BAR, 1:19.716
11. A.Pizzonia, Jaguar, 1:19.876
12. A.Davidson, BAR, 1:20.434
13. N.Jani, Sauber, 1:21.955