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Button quickest as Jerez test concludes 28 Jun 2004

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2004

BAR’s Jenson Button set the pace on Friday’s final day of testing at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Spain. Conditions were again extremely hot, with track temperatures reaching a heady 55 degrees Celsius.

Button ran a total of 105 laps, despite a problem in the morning requiring a quick engine change, focussing on a long-run tyre programme with suppliers Michelin. BAR’s third driver Anthony Davidson concentrated on aerodynamics as he went fourth fastest after 91 laps.

“We had a positive response from the tyre programme and have chosen our tyre option for Magny Cours,” reported Button. “The temperature over the three days has been extremely hot, so sitting in a race car has been even hotter and very difficult for all the drivers on the longer runs. It was disappointing that our work was interrupted by a series of problems, however I did set the fastest time on the final day, which was encouraging, and I am looking forward to the race next weekend at Magny Cours."

Marc Gene and Antonio Pizzonia were second and sixth fastest respectively as they wrapped up Williams’ three-day programme, in which the team completed a total of 415 laps of the Spanish circuit.

"We've had a useful three days in Jerez this week, aided by the clear weather conditions,” said Test Team Manager, Tim Newton. “We've covered all the elements of our test brief, including set-up work and systems checks on the FW26 in preparation for Magny-Cours. Both drivers also covered extensive mileage testing various tyre compounds with Michelin."

Kimi Raikkonen was the quicker of the two McLaren drivers present, out-pacing team mate David Coulthard as the pair continued development of the MP4-19B ahead of its possible race debut in France. The Finn was third fastest, the Scot fifth.

Completing the timesheets were the Toyotas of Cristiano da Matta and Ryan Briscoe. “We don't find this kind of heat everywhere we go, but it's good to test in extreme conditions because they bring different problems and they give us a chance to learn things for the future – particularly on cooling, tyre wear and degradation,” said da Matta.

“Our main objective here was a tyre test aimed primarily at next week's French Grand Prix. It can be difficult to judge tyres at such high temperatures, but we finished everything we had planned and we came up with a good solution. Hopefully it won't be quite as hot as this at Magny-Cours, though. It's no problem when you're out on the track because the wind cools you down – but it's hard when you're in the garage as the heat is unbearable, so the guys did an outstanding job in tough conditions."

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.221
2. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.226
3. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.463
4. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.645
5. David Coulthard, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.881
6. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:18.758
7. Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:18.882
8. Ryan Briscoe, Toyota (Michelin), 1:18.906