Paul Ricard Day Two - Button top 13 May 2004
BARs Jenson Button set the pace at Paul Ricard on Wednesday, as damp conditions dogged the second day of testing at the French circuit. Rain fell for much of the time, with the track only really dry at the very start and very end of the session.
Button, nevertheless, recorded a best lap of 1m 32.954s, only half a second down on Pedro de la Rosas benchmark from Tuesday. His programme in the 006 focussed on wet-weather tyre and aero work and he eventually completed 72 laps.
Antonio Pizzonia was the quicker of the two Williams men present, going second fastest, less than two tenths behind Button. Both he and Marc Gene (seventh fastest) worked on aerodynamics, brakes and tyres in preparation for the forthcoming Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix.
Alexander Wurz was third for McLaren, over a second behind Pizzonia, with colleague de la Rosa sixth in the other MP4-19 present. As on Tuesday, the Spaniard recorded the most laps of any driver, managing 90 around the former French Grand Prix venue.
Toyotas Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta were fourth and eighth respectively, the pair totalling 85 laps in the TF104. Immediately behind Panis was Franck Montagny, who kicked off Renaults three-day programme. The teams official tester carried out some limited development of onboard electronic systems before switching to wet-weather tyre work.
"It was unfortunate to begin our test with a wet day after our recent test at Silverstone was adversely affected by the weather, but we made the best use possible of the day, testing tyres and software, reported Christian Silk, Renaults Chief Test Engineer. We will hope the weather will improve tomorrow in order to evaluate new car and tyre developments in optimum conditions."
Jordans Nick Heidfeld completed the timesheets. The German put in just under 50 laps before he went off into the wall, bringing a premature end to his session. Heidfeld was unhurt in the accident, but the team were forced to spend the rest of the day repairing his EJ14 chassis.
As on Tuesday, the circuit was set-up in its Canada simulation configuration. For Thursday and Friday it will be switched to a Monaco specification to allow testing of the high-downforce packages needed for the Monte Carlo race.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:32.954
2. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:33.130
3. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:34.511
4. Olivier Panis, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:35.132
5. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:35.583
6. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:35.657
7. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:35.850
8. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:37.033
9. Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:37.383