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Test roundup - BAR looking good for Monaco 17 May 2004

(L to R): Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR; David Richards (GBR) BAR Team Principal and Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, 6 May 2004

BAR were yet again the pacesetters at Paul Ricard on Friday, as the pre-Monaco test drew to a close. After the poor weather earlier in the week, the teams did their best to make up for it with a mammoth session. Seven drivers completed 100 laps or more, and two of them managed over 150.

Takuma Sato was the man on top of the timesheets. BAR worked late into Thursday night to fix a gearbox problem on his 006 and the Japanese driver went on to rack up 151 laps – a test record for the team – and set the best lap, a 1m 10.472s.

"Overall we've had a reasonably productive four-day test this week, however only Takuma was able to achieve his planned test programme due to some changeable weather conditions and minor reliability issues,” said Andrew Alsworth, BAR’s Test Team Manager

“The planned Michelin tyre test had to be compressed into a shorter programme, although we have already run some of the Monaco tyre options at an earlier test here with Jenson. Honda have successfully run two of their latest specification engines, achieving their target mileage. With Takuma setting the lap record on this configuration of the Paul Ricard circuit, we are now looking forward to next week's prestigious Monaco Grand Prix - a race we always enjoy."

McLaren were again on the pace, with Kimi Raikkonen second fastest in the MP4-19 after 125 laps of Paul Ricard’s special Monaco simulation layout. Team mate David Coulthard added a further 119 laps to the team’s development mileage and the Scot went fifth quickest.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Antonio Pizzonia brought Williams’ four-day programme to a close, going third and sixth respectively and bringing the team’s test distance for the week to almost 4000 kilometres.

“This week's Paul Ricard test has been focused on preparation work for the two forthcoming Grand Prix in Monaco and Montreal respectively,” summarised Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director. “With a view to the Monaco circuit, we have been running on the shorter track and with for Montreal we used the full track with its long straight.

“The main test objectives were chassis development, set-up and tyre testing. On the engine side, we have been working on improvements of our start performance, traction control and engine set-up. The changeable weather conditions gave us the opportunity to further develop these objectives in dry as well as wet conditions.”

Franck Montagny was fourth fastest for Renault, after putting in 163 laps in the R24. He evaluated dry tyres for Monaco and Montreal throughout the day, concluding the Monaco programme and doing long runs for Montreal. According to the team, both programmes gave positive results.

"An excellent final day for the team, and it was pleasing to see Franck complete the highest mileage of any runner,” reported Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer. “We have continued to make progress with the car and we are very happy with how it is handling. The tyre compounds also hold promise, and overall, we have had a very product week."

Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta completed Toyota’s Monaco preparations in seventh and eighth spots. "This week we had a big Michelin tyre test for the next three races, which all take place within the next month, so I put in a full four days,” said Panis.

“Early in the week we ran on the long version of the circuit to prepare for Canada and the Nurburgring. On Wednesday and Thursday the weather hindered our progress, and the results weren't entirely clear. On Friday we ran on the short circuit to prepare for Monaco, and that should work out quite well. We have to be realistic, though, so I don't expect Monaco will be our best race of the year. But, like in Barcelona, I'll certainly do my best to qualify as high as possible and finish in the best place I can. If we're quick enough to get as high up the grid as we did in Spain then it will be a good job."

German test driver Timo Glock was back in the EJ14 cockpit for Jordan’s final day of testing. He finished bottom of the timesheets after 100 laps. Nevertheless, the team reported positive progress, having concentrated on tyres for forthcoming Grands Prix and modifications for races later in the season.

Unofficial Friday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:10.472
2. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:10.537
3. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (Michelin), 1:10.769
4. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:11.085
5. David Coulthard, McLaren (Michelin), 1:11.163
6. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:11.272
7. Olivier Panis, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:11.815
8. Cristiano da Matta, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:12.045
9. Timo Glock, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:13.768

Elsewhere, Ferrari wrapped up their four-day programmes at Fiorano and Mugello. Rubens Barrichello was driving at Fiorano, working on tyres and set-up. The Brazilian covered a total of 95 laps, ten of them on the short version of the track. The best time on the day was a 56.434s.

Luca Badoer was back at Mugello, having already run at the Tuscany track on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team’s official test driver completed 138 laps, 39 of them on the short version of the track. The day's programme centred on testing new components and aerodynamic work. The quickest lap time was a 1m 19.370s.