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Back to the testing track... 09 Mar 2004

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams BMW FW26.
Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 6 March 2004 Cristiano Da Matta (BRA) Toyota TF104.
Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 7 March 2004 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R24.
Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 6 March 2004 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari F2004.
Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 7 March 2004 Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR Honda 005.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004

Teams seeking quick performance gains for Sepang

After Ferrari’s surprising level of superiority in Australia at the weekend, their rivals will be only too keen to get back to the test track before the Malaysian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. A four-day test session at the Valencia circuit begins on Tuesday.

Williams were expected to be Ferrari’s biggest threat in Melbourne, but in the end failed to even make the podium. They will be among the Michelin teams hard at work in Spain, bidding to rapidly close the performance gap to the Bridgestone-shod F2004s in time for the Sepang race.

There was little to fault Renault’s showing at Albert Park, but they too will be on track at Valencia. Test driver Franck Montagny will spearhead the French team’s programme. Like many of their colleagues, race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli are likely to go direct from Australia to Asia.

Also among those at Valencia will be BAR and Toyota. The former had a very positive weekend in Melbourne, with Jenson Button finishing sixth in the race and matching Williams’ Juan Pablo Montoya to the thousandth of a second in qualifying. In contrast, Toyota’s performance was hugely disappointing and the Japanese squad will have both Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe testing.

And, of course, don’t imagine for a second that Ferrari will be resting on their laurels. Rubens Barrichello will be among the racers making the trip back to Europe to help with development work. Both the Brazilian and Luca Badoer will be testing for the world champions, who will have cars at Mugello and Valencia.