Barcelona Day Three - Ralf still reigns 22 Jan 2004
Ralf Schumacher upped the pace still further on Wednesday as Williams continued to dominate Barcelona testing with their new FW26. Schumacher was less than a tenth of a second faster than team mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who in turn was less than a tenth ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso.
Schumacher did 70 trouble-free laps of the newly revised Circuit de Catalunya, working on mechanical and aero set-ups, while Montoya performed traction control tests and simulated race starts during his 52 laps. Also on track for Williams was Formula One hopeful Nico Rosberg, who went seventh fastest at the wheel of last year's FW25.
Alonso's time was set in last year's Renault R23. The Spaniard was continuing electronics development work for the new R24, though progress was hampered by an engine failure in the morning. In the R24, Jarno Trulli managed a number of long runs to go tenth fastest. Alonso will take over the new car on Thursday.
"It was another encouraging day for the team," said Renault's Executive Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds. "Jarno's running was interrupted with a technical problem, but we nevertheless clocked up a further 320km, including some longer runs. The indications remain very good, and the car is running well with a high fuel load, displaying good consistency."
Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer completed over 150 laps between them as they continued Ferrari's programme of tyres, electronics and engine development. The pair were fourth and sixth fastest respectively, split by the BAR of Jenson Button. Michael Schumacher will make his testing return on Thursday, taking over from Barrichello.
Felipe Massa was again Sauber's sole representative, the Brazilian covering 89 laps in the new C23 on his way to the day's eighth-best time. "In the morning we ran an aerodynamic programme with different front wings and several other parts, and did some system checks," explained race engineer Mike Krack. "Later during the day we focused on Bridgestone tyre construction tests. Tomorrow we will verify the collected Bridgestone data with Giancarlo (Fisichella) and have also planned to run an engine test for race weekends."
Jordan had another difficult day, with Belgian driver Bas Leinders crashing the EJ13 on his very first lap of Formula One testing. After building a second chassis the team managed to get him back out for around an hour in the afternoon. He eventually completed 18 laps to finish bottom of the timesheets. Timo Glock will be back in the Jordan cockpit on Thursday morning, following his Tuesday debut. Nick Heidfeld will then take over in the afternoon and for Friday's running.
Cristiano da Matta was the fastest Toyota on track in ninth place, two above the Japanese team's test driver Ricardo Zonta, while Christian Klien was 12th in the sole Jaguar. Takuma Sato completed the timesheets in 13th. Like team mate Button, he was at the wheel of the Honda-powered squad's '04 concept car, carrying out tyre tests.
Conditions at Barcelona were the best so far this week, with clear skies and track temperatures peaking at 21 degrees Celsius. Testing continues on Thursday and Friday.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Barcelona:
1. Ralf Schumacher, Williams (Michelin), 1:15.630
2. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (Michelin), 1:15.671
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:15.725
4. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:16.025
5. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:16.621
6. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:16.984
7. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.468
8. Felipe Massa, Sauber (Bridgestone), 1:17.539
9. Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.696
10. Jarno Trulli, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.780
11. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.895
12. Christian Klien, Jaguar (Michelin), 1:18.087
13. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.506
14. Bas Leinders, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:21.640