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Testing update - big three teams on top 18 Sep 2003

(L to R): Chris Dyer (GBR) Ferrari Race Engineer chats with Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Hockenheim, Germany, 1 August 2003

Williams, Ferrari and McLaren all headed the times in their respective test sessions on Wednesday, as the Formula One teams continued their build up to the United States Grand Prix.

Ferrari, Sauber, BAR and Toyota were all on track at Jerez, where Michael Schumacher again set the pace. He completed over 100 laps in the F2003-GA, working on set-up and a Bridgestone tyre development programme.

Nick Heidfeld was second quickest for Sauber, he too putting in more than a century of laps of the Spanish circuit. "Our work today basically comprised aerodynamic tests and the assessment of the downforce levels in Indianapolis and Suzuka," explained race engineer Remi Decorzent. "In the afternoon we also conducted a tyre programme to select the most suitable compound for Suzuka."

Jenson Button and Japanese test driver Takuma Sato were both in the cockpit for BAR, the pair separated in the timesheets by the Toyota of Ricardo Zonta. "It has been another quite good day with a lot of laps completed," said Zonta. "We have continued our long-term development programme from yesterday and have again worked on the car's set-up and behaviour at this track, which bears some resemblance to parts of the Indianapolis F1 circuit configuration."

BAR were also in action at Idiada in Spain, where Anthony Davidson completed a two-day programme concentrating on gathering data from the car to analyse handling characteristics.

Meanwhile, at Barcelona, the McLaren trio again led the way, with David Coulthard fastest from Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz. Nearest to them in the times was the Toyota of Cristiano da Matta, who completed the Japanese team's programme at the circuit.

"We did some long runs working on Michelin tyre tests for the next races, but we also validated a new specification engine that we will use at the Japanese Grand Prix," reported da Matta.

Franck Montagny was again at the wheel for Renault, finalising a programme of tyre and chassis development and bringing the French team's testing schedule for this season to a close.

"An effective second day for Franck," summarised Renault Technical Director Mike Gascoyne. "He spent most of the day testing tyres for Suzuka, then moved on to some chassis work. His lap-times were very consistent, and improved throughout the day. Overall, it was a day where he continued to confirm his potential, and a fitting end to a very effective year's testing."

In Britain, Silverstone played host to the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and Marc Gene, and the Jordan of Ralph Firman, returning to the cockpit for the first time since his Hungaroring accident. Montoya was fastest, the Colombian focussing on suspension, brake and tyre work, while Gene carried out a race simulation. Firman, meanwhile, completed just 26 laps to finish around three seconds off Montoya's pace.

Finally, Ferrari's Felipe Massa was the sole runner at Monza, the Brazilian completing 72 laps of US Grand Prix preparations. The team switch to Fiorano on Thursday, with Luca Badoer on driving duty.

Unofficial Jerez times, Wednesday:
1. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 1:18.456
2. Nick Heidfeld, Sauber, 1:19.235
3. Jenson Button, BAR, 1:20.112
4. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, 1:20.298
5. Takuma Sato, BAR, 1:20.425

Unofficial Barcelona times, Wednesday:
1. David Coulthard, McLaren, 1:16.366
2. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, 1:16.431
3. Alexander Wurz, McLaren, 1:16.690
4. Cristiano Da Matta, Toyota, 1:17.356
5. Franck Montagny, Renault, 1:17.392

Unofficial Silverstone times, Wednesday:
1. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 1:19.966
2. Marc Gene, Williams, 1:20.824
3. Ralph Firman, Jordan, 1:23.171