Day Two - Jacques is back, but Kimi leads 16 Sep 2004
As the returning Jacques Villeneuve grabbed the headlines, it was Kimi Raikkonen who set the pace at Silverstone on Wednesday. The Finn recorded a new, unofficial lap record at the wheel of his McLaren, going over half a second faster than BARs Takuma Sato.
Pedro de la Rosa was third fastest in the second McLaren, ahead of the Toyota of Olivier Panis, as they and the three other teams continued their preparations for the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix on September 26.
Jenson Button set the fifth fastest time, working on an aero, suspension and tyre programme for BAR, while team mate Sato, who was delayed slightly by a Honda engine change, focussed on tyres for the coming races.
Marc Gene led the way for Williams in seventh, concentrating on set-up and tyres for Suzuka. Team mate Ralf Schumacher unfortunately missed most of the morning session due to a technical problem and ended the day ninth in the timesheets.
At Renault, Fernando Alonso was eighth after 110 laps of the British Grand Prix circuit. The Spaniard was just over a second faster than Jacques Villeneuve, who set the final time on his first day back in a modern Formula One car. The former champion put in a number of short runs as he acclimatised, improving his times on each.
"We had a good first day, although it wasn't about chasing quick times: the first priority was to get a comfortable driving position within the car, and we have worked away at that all day, commented Villeneuve, who completed 68 laps.
I had expected things to be more difficult physically because the lap-times are a lot faster than when I last drove in F1, and Silverstone is possibly the most physically demanding circuit of all, but I feel fine. The R24 seems a nice car and handles well, but our aim today was to begin learning about the car - we did not work on set-ups at all. Overall, we made good progress."
Unlike on Tuesday, conditions were largely fine and dry at Silverstone. Testing continues on Thursday, when former Arrows driver Enrique Bernoldi could make his testing debut with BAR.
Unofficial Wednesday times from Silverstone:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.150
2. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.145
3. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.207
4. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.266
5. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.537
6. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.649
7. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.705
8. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.807
9. Ralf Schumacher, Williams (Michelin), 1:18.390
10. Jacques Villeneuve, Renault (Michelin), 1:19.063