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Coulthard stakes his claim at Jerez 09 Dec 2004

David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 8 December 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 8 December 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19 Formula 1 Testing, Silverstone, 15 September 2004. World © Hartley/Sutton Anthony Davidson (GBR) BAR Test Driver. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 8 December 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF104B. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 8 December 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton

McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa was fastest in Spain on Wednesday, but it was David Coulthard who was in the spotlight, as the Scot made a convincing test debut for the Red Bull Racing team, comfortably outpacing the two other drivers testing for them.

Coulthard, in plain blue overalls, finished the day eighth quickest from 15 drivers, completing just over 60 laps of the Spanish circuit. He was over half a second quicker than Christian Klien and more than a second ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi. Both are members of Red Bull’s driver development programme and, like Coulthard, both are hoping for a race seat with the team in 2005.

At the front of the field, de la Rosa was untouchable, recording a best of 1m 15.841s, more than 1.5s ahead of second-placed Antonio Pizzonia and only around two tenths off the circuit’s unofficial lap record. In the second McLaren present Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth.

Williams were represented by Pizzonia and Mark Webber, with Nick Heidfeld expected to test again with the team on Thursday. Webber, sixth fastest at the wheel of an interim FW26, focussed on tyres on brakes, while Pizzonia, in a similar car, concentrated on systems checks and tyres.

Jarno Trulli was again the quicker Toyota driver, as he and Ralf Schumacher went third and fifth respectively. And at Renault, Franck Montagny was seventh quickest to Giancarlo Fisichella’s ninth. For Fisichella it was his first chance to lap Jerez in the dry in the R24.

“The day proved extremely productive,” said Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk. “Running with development parts on the car, our initial task was to find a good balance, and subsequently to make progress on our tyre development with Michelin. Overall, it was a positive beginning to the test, and we hope to continue in the same vein tomorrow."

At BAR Jenson Button was joined by Anthony Davidson, taking part in his first test for the team since the season ended in October. Davidson, 14th, worked primarily on set-up and aerodynamics in the 006, while Button, tenth, was at the wheel of the team’s 05 Concept car, concentrating on Michelin tyre development.

Ferrari continued their 2005 preparations with test drivers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer, who were 12th and 13th fastest and completed 224 laps between them. Rubens Barrichello is scheduled to take over from Gene on Thursday.

Once the early morning fog had cleared at Jerez, conditions were again fine and dry, with track temperature reaching a high of around 22 degrees Celsius. Testing continues at the circuit on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.841
2. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.464
3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.607
4. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.702
5. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.719
6. Mark Webber, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.803
7. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.063
8. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.080
9. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.102
10. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.150
11. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.626
12. Marc Gene, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.774
13. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.901
14. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:19.235
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:19.420