Testing update - McLaren on top again 04 Sep 2003
David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen made it a McLaren one-two in the timesheets at Monza on Wednesday, as this week's major testing session continued in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix.
The pair proved there is plenty of life left in the MP4-17D as they outpaced nearest rival, Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, completing around 130 laps between them. McLaren tyre suppliers Michelin were known to be trialling new tyres in response to the FIA's recent letter, though it was not exactly clear which teams were using them.
Frentzen was the sole Sauber runner in a session that was interrupted by showers in the morning, before brightening in the afternoon. "Today we have mainly tested new aerodynamic parts," reported the team's Head of Vehicle Engineering, Jacky Eeckelaert. "In the morning we specifically worked on the Monza preparation and evaluated a new car floor as well as revised turning vanes.
"However, due to the rain which set in we were forced to interrupt our aerodynamic programme. In the afternoon we were able to continue and checked a new rear wing which will be used at the Indianapolis race. We also worked on Bridgestone tyres for the United States Grand Prix."
Ferrari again had three F2003-GAs on track, the fastest of which was Michael Schumacher. The World Champion, Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer all continued the team's programme of tyre, aerodynamic and set-up work, while Felipe Massa ran further Bridgestone tyre tests in an F2002 at Fiorano, taking over from Luciano Burti.
Juan Pablo Montoya headed the Williams campaign, setting the day's sixth best time as he too focussed on tyre, aero and set-up work. With Ralf Schumacher having returned home to rest following his Tuesday shunt, tester Marc Gene stepped into the breach. However, his car did not arrive until late in the day and the Spaniard put in only a handful of installation laps.
Renault completed their first day at the circuit this week, with Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso racking up over 150 laps between them. "We successfully evaluated the new low-downforce package, and completed a significant amount of tyre development, focusing on constructions and compounds for the (Italian) race," commented Technical Director Mike Gascoyne. "Jarno also ran with an uprated engine specification today."
Jenson Button, Jacques Villeneuve and Takuma Sato were all at work for BAR, with Villeneuve putting in a staggering 137 laps. Equivalent to almost 800 km, it is thought to be the greatest distance ever completed by a BAR driver in a single day. F3000 star Townsend Bell also clocked up the kilometres as he continued aero work for the team at Lurcy in France. The American driver completed over 150 laps of the French track.
Toyota were another team with three cars at Monza. Race drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta concentrated on tyres, while test driver Ricardo Zonta was charged with longer-term development work. "Our focus today was on tyre testing and we conducted evaluations of the Michelin compounds ahead of the Italian Grand Prix," explained Panis. "Tyre work this week is an all important aspect as everyone knows and I am really happy with today's results."
Jordan, who have conducted only limited testing this year under the Heathrow Agreement, fielded two cars, with Giancarlo Fisichella and Zsolt Baumgartner working through a varied schedule including the team's brake programme for the Italian Grand Prix, engine and rear-suspension development and low-downforce set-up work for the Monza race. 2003 F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim will get his first test for the team on Thursday when he takes over from Baumgartner.
Minardi also made a rare testing appearance. With only one PS03 available, work was split between test driver Gianmaria Bruni in the morning and Jos Verstappen in the afternoon. Bruni trialled a new nose configuration and a revised engine cover, while Verstappen continued with aero and tyre work, though his progress was hampered by a damaged floor, which had to be replaced. Bruni and Nicolas Kiesa will continue the team's programme on Thursday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Monza:
1. David Coulthard, McLaren, 1:21.546
2. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, 1:21.761
3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber, 1:22.127
4. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 1:22.139
5. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:22.165
6. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 1:22.177
7. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 1:22.250
8. Jarno Trulli Renault, 1:22.415
9. Jenson Button, BAR, 1:22.496
10. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:22.645
11. Olivier Panis, Toyota, 1:22.664
12. Mark Webber, Jaguar, 1:22.808
13. Takuma Sato, BAR, 1:22.831
14. Justin Wilson, Jaguar, 1:22.928
15. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, 1:22.936
16. Cristiano da Matta, Toyota, 1:23.111
17. Jacques Villeneuve, BAR, 1:23.186
18. Zsolt Baumgartner, Jordan, 1:24.134
19. Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan, 1:24.617
20. Jos Verstappen, Minardi, 1:24.712
21. Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi, 1:25.240
22. Marc Gene, Williams, 1:25.482