Pre-Imola testing gets underway 06 Apr 2004
Teams return to development work in Barcelona...
Ferraris rivals have extra time to close the gap before Imola thanks to a break of three weeks ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix on April 25. And after Michael Schumachers third win from three races in Bahrain, they will be only too grateful for the additional time.
This weeks multi-team test, which kicks off today (Tuesday), is at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona in Spain. Eight of the ten Formula One teams are expected to be in action (Jordan are due to test the following week), with Ferrari choosing to run alongside their rivals rather than test in private.
The world champions have no plans to rest on their laurels, with Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and test driver Luca Badoer all due to participate in a four-day programme with the F2004 at the Spanish circuit.
Also running for four days will be McLaren, the only team to suffer a double retirement in Bahrain. The Mercedes-powered squad, who along with Williams were expected to be the biggest threat to Ferrari this year, have scored just four points from the first three races and admit they have plenty of work to do. At the wheel of the MP4-19 will be David Coulthard and test duo Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa.
Williams are due to run in Barcelona from Wednesday through Friday. On track all three days, following his recent successful trial with the team at Paul Ricard, will be reigning IRL champion Scott Dixon. Williams are known to be on the lookout for driver talent Juan Pablo Montoya leaves for McLaren at the end of the season, while Ralf Schumacher, who did little to impress team management with his erratic performance in Bahrain, has yet to renew his contract. Schumacher and Marc Gene will join Dixon in Barcelona.
Renault will be eager to further improve the R24's performance after being eclipsed by BAR again in Bahrain. Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso will test from Tuesday to Thursday. They will also be joined by Toyota. The Japanese squad, fresh from their upturn in form at the weekend, will have Olivier Panis, Cristiano da Matta and Ricardo Zonta all working on new developments for the TF104.
Jaguar and Sauber have three-day programmes planned at in Barcelona, while BAR will also be testing this week in a bid to ensure that their superb start to the season continues upon Formula One racings return to Europe.
Note, all schedules are provisional and remain subject to change.