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BAR fight back at Catalunya 07 May 2004

(L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) BAR talks with David Richards (GBR) BAR Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2004 Anthony Davidson (GBR) BAR Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2004 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams BMW FW26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2004 Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2004 Christian Klien (AUT) Jaguar.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2004

From Buckmore to Barcelona - Button does it again

Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson give BAR a one-two in second practice, as the Honda team continue their excellent form.

“That wasn’t bad, was it?” Button grinned after practice here in Barcelona this afternoon, as once again he set the fastest lap time. The Englishman took things relatively easy to begin with, setting the second fastest time of 1m 16.659s behind team mate Anthony Davidson’s excellent 1m 16.188s effort, then ended the session with a bang as he lapped in 1m 15.935s.

He was the only man to lap in the 1m 15s this afternoon, in track temperatures that swung between a high of 35 degrees Celsius initially but plunged to 27 as rain spots fell in the first and final sectors towards the end. The two Buckmore Park karting graduates (they raced together there in their early years) sat at the head of the times to the end of the session, and the team were delighted. “Our programme is on target so far,” team principal David Richards said.

Fernando Alonso was also quick in the Renault, as expected, his 1m 16.534s leaving him close to the Honda-engined cars. But near the end he was displaced from what was second fastest time when Ralf Schumacher popped in a 1m 16.433s to boost Williams hopes and underline the performance of Michelin’s tyres. Then Schumacher in turn was displaced by Ricardo Zonta’s Toyota, with 1m 16.360s.

Michael Schumacher, fastest this morning (and overall today), was the leading Bridgestone runner on 1m 16.729s for Ferrari, until team mate Rubens Barrichello punched in a best of 1m 16.698s for an eventual sixth. Schumacher was not too worried afterwards. “We got through all of our programme this afternoon,” he said, “and I am quite happy.”

Renault’s Jarno Trulli was eighth in 1m 16.734s, and Kimi Raikkonen was also in the picture, lapping his improved McLaren in 1m 16.798s for ninth fastest time, despite the Finn’s MP4-19 coming to a halt midway through the session with an ignition problem. Cristiano da Matta rounded out the top 10 for Toyota with 1m 16.833s, with team mate Olivier Panis right behind on 1n 16.925s.

The plight of Williams’ Juan Pablo Montoya, only 12th on 1m 17.067s, highlighted the changing nature of the conditions during the hour. The Colombian was unhappy with the way things worked out for him, but admitted that he had expected problems on the fickle surface.

Behind him came David Coulthard (1m 17.069s), Mark Webber (1m 17.178s), Timo Glock (1m 17.608s), Bjorn Wirdheim (1m 17.676s), Felipe Massa (1m 17.906s) and Takuma Sato (1m 17.970s). To greater or lesser extents each of them suffered from the rain at the end which left the last two corners very slippery.

Giancarlo Fisichella complained of low grip and oversteer on his Sauber, and headed the Jordans of Nick Heidfeld and Giorgio Pantano, who in turn headed the Minardis of Bruni, Baumgartner and Leinders.

The Michelin runners may have a slight advantage on the first lap on new tyres, but in long distance runs there seems thus far to be little to choose between the two makes.

Compared to the morning session there was a little more action. Christian Klien was the first man to make a major mistake this weekend, sliding off the road and into the gravel in Turn Five after only a few minutes. Later Trulli spoiled one lap when he put two wheels in the dirt in Turn One.