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Valencia day one - new BAR hits the track 20 Jan 2005

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR Honda 007. BAR 007 Launch. Formula One Launch, Barcelona, Spain, 16 January 2005. World © McNeil/Sutton

BAR’s 2005 challenger, the 007, made its full track debut on Wednesday when Jenson Button began a three-day test with the car at Valencia. Button finished third in the times, behind McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya and the Renault of Franck Montagny.

Button had a brief outing in the car prior to its launch in Barcelona at the weekend, but Wednesday’s session was its first proper run-out. He completed a total of 73 laps, working on set-up and tyres in the morning and then a race simulation in the afternoon, though this ended slightly early due to an engine failure.

Leading the times at a very windy Valencia was the McLaren of Montoya, the Colombian putting in just under 100 laps at the wheel of the MP4-19. He will hand over to test driver Alexander Wurz for Thursday’s and Friday’s sessions.

Most hardworking man of the day was Montagny, who clocked up 118 laps in the Renault R24, working almost exclusively on tyres, evaluating new constructions and compounds. The Frenchman will be joined by Fernando Alonso on Thursday.

"Today, we began what has become the normal tyre evaluation process for 2005 specification tyres,” explained Renault’s chief test engineer, Christian Silk. “Our performance runs yielded promising results, with further steps forward in the compounds and constructions, and we will continue our work with longer distance running tomorrow."

Along with BAR, Sauber were the other team running their 2005 car at Valencia. Jacques Villeneuve went fourth fastest in the C24, just ahead of Takuma Sato in BAR’s ’05 Concept car. After technical problems cut short Villeneuve’s time in the new car last week, the former champion was pleased to get in over 90 laps.

"Today was a good and long work day, and much better than my last test,” he said. “In the morning the handling of the car was a bit difficult, particularly because of the very windy weather conditions, but at the end it was much better. However, we still have to work on it. The long-runs we did were consistent and comparative, but the one-lap pace still leaves room for improvements."

Explaining Sauber’s programme for the day, race engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara added: “We basically worked on the set-up of the C24 and did some Michelin tyre comparisons to get used to the tyres according to the new regulations. If everything goes in line with the plan we will start with more in-depth Michelin work with Felipe (Massa) on Friday.”

Apart from the wind, conditions were otherwise fine at Valencia, with track temperature peaking at 18 degrees Celsius. Testing continues on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Valencia:
1. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:11.288
2. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:11.363
3. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:12.218
4. Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (Michelin), 1:12.225
5. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:12.291