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Jerez Day Three- McLaren on a roll 10 Dec 2004

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 9 December 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton

McLaren have topped the times everyday so far this week at Jerez. On Thursday it was Kimi Raikkonen’s turn, the Finn bettering the Toyota of Jarno Trulli by around three tenths of a second.

It was Raikkonen’s first official outing since the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in October, and he was quickly up to speed, clocking a best time of 1m 16.658s after 98 laps of the Spanish circuit. Team mate Alexander Wurz was eighth after 81 laps.

Toyota had another productive day of testing, with little to separate Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher in the times as they finished second and third fastest for the Japanese squad.

Mark Webber was the quickest Williams driver, but only just. The Australian had 2005 hopeful Nick Heidfeld less than a tenth of a second behind him in the times. Both men worked on set-up and tyres, with Heidfeld putting in several long runs. Webber’s running was limited in the afternoon due to an engine change.

Friday will see Heidfeld go head to head with Antonio Pizzonia, both of whom are under consideration for a 2005 race seat by the team. Williams will also be running at Jerez on Saturday after deciding to extend their programme by a day.

Renault had a very busy time, with Franck Montagny completing a mammoth 152 laps on his way to the sixth best time. In contrast technical problems limited Giancarlo Fisichella’s running to just 20 laps as he went seventh.

"Franck did a great job today: he concentrated on long runs with the tyres, and completed a substantial programme,” commented Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk. “We learned a lot about the tyre behaviour, and development is progressing well.

“On the other side of the garage, Giancarlo only completed a small number of laps owing to several mechanical difficulties. However, during the laps he did complete, he found the car to be well-balanced and his times were competitive."

David Coulthard put in another convincing performance at Red Bull as he seeks to stay in Formula One racing for 2005. The Scot was ninth fastest, while the team’s other drivers, Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi, were 12th and 13th respectively, both half a second off Coulthard’s pace.

BAR also had three men in action, the quickest being Jenson Button in 10th. The Englishman worked on set-up and tyres in the team’s 05 Concept car, while testers Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi shared a 006 chassis for their programme, which saw them finish 15th and 16th in the times.

Ferrari, the sole Bridgestone runners, completed the Thursday line-up, with Rubens Barrichello another man making his post-season test debut. The Brazilian was 11th fastest after 67 laps of tyre and component development, with Luca Badoer 14th. The same pairing will wrap up Ferrari’s programme on Friday.

Most of the other teams are also due to complete their 2004 test schedules on Friday, with only Red Bull, McLaren and now Williams expected to stay on into the weekend at Jerez.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.658
2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:16.936
3. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.114
4. Mark Webber, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.445
5. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.522
6. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.737
7. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.857
8. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.889
9. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.108
10. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.165
11. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.518
12. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.614
13. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.786
14. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.805
15. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.906
16. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:19.065