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Jerez day four - Villeneuve makes his mark 11 Dec 2005

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Sauber Petronas C24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai, China, 15 October 2005

Jacques Villeneuve moved to the top of the leader board at Jerez on Saturday as five of the Formula One teams concluded this week’s testing at the Spanish circuit. The BMW Sauber driver clocked a best time of 1m 18.752 in his V8 machine, almost a second quicker than McLaren’s Alexander Wurz.

Villeneuve ran a trouble-free 101 laps, with the team carrying out a scheduled engine change at lunchtime. The former champion and his engineers concentrated on a tyre test programme for Michelin, as well as continuing to gather more data on the new P86 V8.

De la Rosa’s time for McLaren was set using an MP4-20 running a restricted V10 engine, designed to simulate V8 power levels. Team mate Alexander Wurz was fifth in the team’s interim V8 car.

"It has been a productive week in Jerez, with myself, Alex and Gary (Paffett) completing in four days over 2,800 kilometres,” reported De la Rosa. “My work yesterday and today has focused on tyre comparison with Michelin, as I have been running a V10 engine, and we have gathered valuable data. I am looking forward to the test next week where we can continue the good progress before breaking for Christmas."

The Toyota’s of Ricardo Zonta and Jarno Trulli were third and fourth fastest and test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer was pleased with progress. "Overall, this has been a useful and constructive test,” he said. “We have had four days of running with four different drivers and it has given us a chance to put some mileage on the TF106 and to spend some time working on set-up with our new Bridgestone tyres. The cars have been reliable and we have collected a lot of useful data to help us learn what direction to take to get the best out of the rubber."

Marc Gene was again at the wheel of Ferrari’s interim F2004 M, working on development of the team’s new V8 engine, while also looking at development of the Bridgestone tyres. The Spanish test driver covered 112 laps on his way to sixth in the times.

It was a busy day for the MF1 team, who had no fewer than four drivers on track. 2006 racer Christijan Albers was running the interim EJ15B V8 car, while Roman Rusinov, Markus Winkelhock and Fabrizio del Monte, all making their debuts with the team, shared the 2005-spec EJ15B.

Albers' main task was to work on set-up and get more data on the new Toyota engine, while Rusinov, del Monte and Winkelhock spent much of their allocated time acclimatising themselves to Formula One performance levels before assisting with a Bridgestone tyre programme.

Normal testing at Jerez will resume next Tuesday. However, the Bridgestone teams will be running a special wet-weather test on Sunday, using an artificially-watered circuit.

Unofficial Saturday times from Jerez:
1. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.752
2. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:19.563
3. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.805
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.870
5. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:20.217
6. Marc Gene, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:20.232
7. Markus Winkelhock, MF1 (Bridgestone), 1:20.800
8. Roman Rusinov, MF1 (Bridgestone), 1:21.900
9. Christijan Albers, MF1 (Bridgestone), 1:22.690
10. Fabrizio del Monte, MF1 (Bridgestone), 1:24.150