World champion stamps his authority on Spanish track
Michael Schumacher joined the Jerez test on Thursday, the final day of the session, and immediately showed his rivals the way as he set a new unofficial lap record for the Spanish circuit.
Schumacher, working on a Bridgestone tyre programme for the world champions, was almost a second faster than McLarens Alexander Wurz and brother Ralf, who set almost identical times in second and third.
Ralf Schumacher worked primarily on tyres for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, while team mate Marc Gene was evaluating Michelin rubber with the 2005 season in mind. Set-up and practice starts were also on the Williams agenda.
Under clear Spanish skies, the team has spent the last three days concentrating on set-up work and tyre evaluations in preparation for the last two races of the season, confirmed Williams test team manager Tim Newton. All in all, we've had a very productive test which we hope will stand us in good stead for Suzuka and Brazil.
BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen, added: We had a very good test. We covered a lot of mileage and we managed to rectify the problem we experienced with our starts in the last race. Furthermore, we made some progress with the traction control system and the engine.
BAR again had Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi in action as they completed their programme, the pair finishing the day fourth and eighth respectively, with both completing over 100 laps, working primarily on tyres.
Jarno Trulli was sixth as he wrapped up his first full test session with Toyota. "It was good to have three days to test after the hurried test at Silverstone, and I've more or less sorted out my seat now after trying a couple of alternatives, said the Italian.
It wasn't the luckiest test, though. We had a reasonable first day, but we lost time after a stone lodged itself inside the rim of my left rear tyre, causing it to deflate and sending me off the circuit. I was okay, and so was the car, and we ended up putting in nearly 70 laps.
On Wednesday I was testing tyres for the Brazilian Grand Prix but our work was interrupted by an accident at the chicane caused by a problem related to the rear suspension. Luckily it happened at one of the slowest parts of the circuit, but the damage meant that we did no more running that afternoon. The last day was much better and we put in a lot more mileage, so despite the troubles I now have a good feel for the car and its positive aspects."
Renault were the final team present, with French tester Franck Montagny fifth in the times between Davidson and Gene, and Finnish youngster Heikki Kovalainen completing the order behind the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa.
As has been the case throughout the week, conditions were again perfect at Jerez, with track temperatures rising to almost 50 degrees Celsius. Testing resumes at the circuit in the week following the Japanese Grand Prix.
Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:15.629
2. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.444
3. Ralf Schumacher, Williams (Michelin), 1:16.447
4. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:16.568
5. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:16.643
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:16.674
7. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:16.943
8. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.208
9. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.322
10. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.370