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Barcelona day four - Button still in front 02 Dec 2005

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 23 September 2005

Jenson Button was again the clear leader in Barcelona testing on Thursday, as he and team mate Anthony Davidson took a one-two for BAR Honda. Both set their quickest times in this year’s V10 car.

In the morning Button used the 007 machine to complete an aero programme and suspension evaluation, while Davidson ran in the team’s V8-powered 2006 concept car. In the afternoon they switched chassis, giving Button his first experience of the new engine.

Toyota again set the V8 pace, with Ricardo Zonta third fastest, the Brazilian working closely on set-up with new tyre suppliers Bridgestone. "Today, for me, has been the best of the three days so far this week,” he said. “We have had time to work through a lot of things and try a lot of different tyres.

“We are stopping a lot to make set-up changes and we are not looking for super-quick lap times but despite that our performance was still very respectable. The tyres have quite a different feel in some aspects but it has been a very positive day. The tyre graining can affect things in colder weather but it has been a very good day overall and we are learning all the time."

Ralf Schumacher was 10th fastest on his first outing in the Toyota TF106 after suffering an engine failure. “The car was fitted with some new experimental parts and we will need to carry out a thorough investigation to discover the problem,” explained Luca Marmorini, the team’s engine technical director. “But we are not despondent because the engine was approaching 900kms first time out with the untried system. Also, while we concentrated on reliability in the first tests with the new engine a couple of months ago, we are now looking more towards performance."

Williams, another team new to Bridgestone tyres, declared themselves happy with their progress as they wrapped up their Barcelona session with Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg fourth and eighth respectively. “This week was a fantastic first test for the new Williams, Cosworth and Bridgestone partnership and it is a great credit to everybody in Grove and Northampton to have been able to conduct such a thorough first test together,” commented technical director Sam Michael.

“Although we experienced the normal teething problems, the mileage we’ve achieved and the progress we’ve made on set-up and understanding the tyres and how the car responds to the V8 has been really good. Mark worked on set-up changes today and did some tyre testing for Bridgestone, while Nico spent this morning on set-ups but we lost some time on his car repairing a gearbox problem. Both Mark and Nico will be driving in Jerez next week.”

After sitting out Wednesday’s running, McLaren were back on track with Pedro de la Rosa their quickest driver in fifth, with Juan Pablo Montoya in seventh, both men at the wheel of interim MP4-20Bs, using Mercedes V8s. The Colombian suffered a minor off when Ralf Schumacher’s engine failed in front of him.

Renault had three drivers in action, all using restricted V10s in the R25, the quickest being regular tester Franck Montagny in sixth. “Our work today built on yesterday and we especially focused on electronic software during the morning,” explained the Frenchman. “We subsequently ran a tyre programme that gave us some good directions for our next test sessions, because we already know that there is a lot of work to do in this area.”

Sharing a second Renault chassis were Poland’s Robert Kubica, winner of the 2005 World Series by Renault, and Italian Giorgio Mondini, winner of the 2004 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup. Both men acquitted themselves well on their Formula One debuts to finish 11th and 13th respectively in the timesheets.

“I was pleased with the progress I made,” said Kubica. “That was what the team was really interested in, more than the absolute lap-times: to see how I worked with them, to give them feedback about the car. I tried to improve with every lap, and make no mistakes. From that point of view, it was a successful day.”

“To be driving the world championship winning car is an extraordinary opportunity,” added Mondini. “My first aim was to enjoy the experience, without making any mistakes. It is not easy to understand how a car like this works in the space of a few hours, but it was really enjoyable…”

David Coulthard was again at the wheel for Red Bull, this time with new third driver Robert Doornbos for company. Also driving an RB1 car, but for the Toro Rosso team, was Scott Speed, the American taking over from Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Conditions in Barcelona were sunny, but not ideal, with track temperature struggling to reach 15 degrees Celsius. The session continues on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:14.140
2. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:15.270
3. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:16.647
4. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:17.293
5. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.447
6. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.587
7. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.762
8. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:17.798
9. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:17.910
10. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:17.982
11. Robert Kubica, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.997
12. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:19.052
13. Giorgio Mondini, Renault (Michelin), 1:19.093
14. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:19.111