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Barcelona testing roundup 12 Apr 2004

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR celebrates his 3rd place
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 4 April 2004

BAR topped the times on Friday as the week’s Barcelona test came to a close in a mixture of wet and dry conditions. Jenson Button was quickest, ahead of team mate Takuma Sato and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher.

It was the end of four days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya for BAR, who deemed the test successful in terms of reliability and consistency, despite the wet weather compromising running later in the week. Button and Sato, along with tester Anthony Davidson, covered almost 2000 km between them, while Davidson achieved almost 1100 km at an additional two-day wet-weather test in Valencia.

“We have successfully tested new aero components for the San Marino Grand Prix, tyres for the Spanish Grand Prix, as well as a new specification engine from Honda,” explained BAR’s Chief Test Engineer, Mark Ellis. “All three drivers have run this week producing extremely competitive lap times and the car has demonstrated excellent reliability. We will continue our developments next week at Paul Ricard and Vairano, ahead of the first European Grand Prix at Imola in two weeks' time."

It was also the fourth and final day of testing this week for Ferrari and once again Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello (eighth fastest) took to the track, both at the wheel of an F2004. Both drivers worked on a set-up and tyre test programme. Ferrari will be back on track on Monday (April 12) at the Fiorano circuit, when Luca Badoer will be driving.

Pedro de la Rosa was the quickest McLaren driver in fourth,with Alexander Wurz finishing seventh. Between them was the Jaguar of Mark Webber, the Australian taking over testing duties from third driver Bjorn Wirdheim, and Williams tester Marc Gene, who out-paced Scott Dixon, again testing for the team, in ninth. Ralf Schumacher was 10th for Williams, but only completed five laps before pulling out with back pain.

In preparation for the European season opener in San Marino on April 25, Williams concentrated on mechanical set-up work and tyre testing of the FW26, as well as completing longer runs for engine mapping. The team totalled over 2,300 kilometres on the Spanish track. They will be among the teams travelling to Paul Ricard in France next week for a three-day test commencing on Wednesday April 14.

Finally, Sauber completed their three-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, with Giancarlo Fisichella covering 78 laps in the C23. "Today's session could not begin until 10 am because of a local holiday, and the track did not dry out enough to use Bridgestone dry weather tyres until 11.30,” explained Race Engineer Mike Krack.

“After that we were able to do some more tyre testing for Bridgestone, evaluating the compound for the Spanish Grand Prix here in May. We also evaluated some brake materials and cooling, and were able to make some aerodynamic improvements on the braking side. It started raining again at 4 pm, however, by which time we in any case only had five laps' time left on the engine, so we stopped early.

"We didn't go for times today but believe we were able to make a good tyre choice. Having struggled with a mechanical problem on the first day, then had rain yesterday, today was the best day of the test in terms of working through our programme."

With a three-week break between the Bahrain and San Marino Grands Prix, testing continues next week at several European venues. Full schedule to follow.

Unofficial Friday times from Barcelona:
1. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:15.048
2. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:15.293
3. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:15.628
4. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.798
5. Mark Webber, Jaguar (Michelin), 1:15.861
6. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:15.924
7. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.272
8. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:16.521
9. Scott Dixon, Williams (Michelin), 1:16.610
10. Ralf Schumacher, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.190
11. Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (Bridgestone), 1:17.247