MP4-19 has the edge over Williams and Ferrari rivals
McLarens Pedro de la Rosa clocked the fastest time of the week in Valencia testing on Thursday. The Spaniard, at the wheel of the MP4-19, outpaced the Williams FW26 of Marc Gene and the Ferrari F2004 of Rubens Barrichello.
It was the second day this week that McLaren have topped the times, with de la Rosa having also gone quickest on Tuesday. Only in the damp conditions on Wednesday did the team slip down the order.
At Williams, Gene was around a quarter of a second down on his compatriot as he worked on traction control and set-ups for the forthcoming Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. He will hand over to Antonio Pizzonia for the weeks final session on Friday.
Barrichello put in 77 laps of new car development on his way to third spot, while Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer managed 115 in the F2003-GA. The Italian concentrated on Bridgestone tyre testing and set the days eighth and final time.
Wednesday pacesetter Anthony Davidson was fourth fastest in BARs 04 concept car, the British driver racking up close to 130 laps. The only man to complete more was Renaults Franck Montagny in the 2003 R23. The Frenchman worked on tyres and suspension prior to Malaysia, as well as some more power steering development.
"We had a very busy day, trying to get two days' testing done in one," commented Christian Silk, Renaults Chief Test Engineer. "In spite of blustery conditions, our programme proved mostly successful, and it was an impressive feat to complete over 500km, including an engine change."
Toyota completed the Thursday line-up, the Japanese squad again fielding their test driver pairing of Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe. The Brazilian and Australian were sixth and seventh respectively, separated by just a couple of hundredths of a second.
Conditions at the circuit were clear, but windy, with track temperatures of up to 27 degrees Celsius. Testing concludes at Valencia on Friday when the Michelin teams are expected to participate in a wet-weather tyre test on an artificially dampened circuit.
Unofficial Thursday times from Valencia:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:09.979
2. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:10.248
3. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:10.476
4. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:10.839
5. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:10.946
6. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:11.138
7. Ryan Briscoe, Toyota (Michelin), 1:11.165
8. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:11.321