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Day 3 - BAR dominate at Mugello 30 Apr 2004

Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR Honda 006.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2004

Honda-powered cars maintain strong testing form

The BARs of Takuma Sato and Jenson Button topped the times at Mugello on Thursday, with Toyota, Minardi and Ferrari also in action in preparation for next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Sato completed a total of 67 laps in the 006, despite a driveshaft failure temporarily halting his progress in his afternoon, carrying out tyre work and longer runs. The Japanese driver will move to Silverstone for Friday’s testing.

Button, meanwhile, taking over from BAR’s third driver Anthony Davidson, was around half a second down on Sato after 62 laps of the Italian circuit. His focus was an aerodynamics programme. The British driver continues at Mugello on Friday, alongside Davidson.

Third and fourth, and almost inseparable, in the timesheets were Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta. The latter racked up over 130 laps, more than any other driver present, as both Toyotas outpaced the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello.

Barrichello took over the Bridgestone tyre programme that team mate Michael Schumacher had been working on in the F2004 on Wednesday. He reeled off 48 laps of Mugello, seven of them on the circuit’s short layout. He continues work at the track on Friday.

Joining the test on Thursday were Minardi. Gianmaria Bruni was at the wheel of the PS04B, testing the car’s latest aerodynamic package, as well as evaluating a revised braking system and a new damper specification.

"It has been a good test and I am happy with the general balance of the car,” said Bruni after 74 laps. “It reflects in the fastest lap we did today, which was 1.5 seconds quicker than the best time around Mugello for last year's Minardi. The guys have done a really good job, and the car is definitely better. We can now go to Spain next weekend feeling positive."

This week’s Mugello test concludes on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Mugello:
1. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:19.150
2. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:19.600
3. Olivier Panis, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:20.106
4. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:20.112
5. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:20.896
6. Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (Bridgestone), 1:23.910