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Winter testing begins in Barcelona 28 Nov 2005

Gary Paffett (GBR) tests for McLaren Mercedes. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 28 November - 2 December 2005. World ©  Capilitan/Sutton

The first major pre-2006 test got underway on Monday morning as two teams took to the track at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. Reigning DTM champion Gary Paffett was at the wheel for McLaren, along with Alexander Wurz, while Nick Heidfeld made his first official appearance for BMW Sauber.

Paffett, who has tested twice before for McLaren, was promised another outing with the team after winning the German touring car series this season for Mercedes. He and Wurz are driving the V8-engined MP4-20 at the Circuit de Catalunya, where they are due to complete McLaren’s two-day programme on Tuesday.

For Heidfeld, Monday’s session is his first time back in the cockpit since he pulled out of the Italian Grand Prix meeting back in September. The German appeared in a helmet devoid of sponsorship, bar a sole BMW logo, while the car was in Sauber’s regular 2005 livery. The team will unveil their new identity early in 2006.

It is set to be a busy week in Barcelona, with at least seven of the teams due to take part. On Tuesday, Toyota’s new TF106 machine will make its first appearance in the hands of Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta, while Williams will debut their 2006-specification Cosworth V8 engine with Nico Rosberg.

Renault will be running with a restricted V10 in their car to simulate V8 power levels, the world champions having opted not to use an interim machine. Among their driver line-up will be Robert Kubica, 2005 World Series by Renault champion, and the 2004 Renault V6 winner Giorgio Mondini, both sampling Formula One power for the first time.

Check back throughout the week for the latest updates from Barcelona.