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Valencia day four - Schumacher on top 07 Feb 2005

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2004.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Interlagos, Brazil, 23 October 2004

Michael Schumacher sent Ferrari home from Valencia on a high as he topped the times in the week’s final day of testing on Friday. Schumacher, in a modified F2004, set a best of 1m 10.207s as he put in 123 laps of Bridgestone tyre development. Rubens Barrichello was third fastest at the wheel of the interim F2004 M.

Jenson Button helped wrap up BAR’s programme with the new 007, finishing the day second fastest behind Schumacher after 122 laps. "We have had a positive week in Valencia,” said the British driver. “We did some tyre evaluation but most of the work has been focused on set-up and improving the car. We made some good steps forward over the test although we do still have some work to do.”

Button was joined by Enrique Bernoldi in a second 007, while BAR’s driver development members Adam Carroll and Alan van Der Merwe continued in the older 006 machine. "It was good to have my first chance to drive the 007 car this week and also to do some evaluation runs on new tyres,” commented Bernoldi. “Today we spent time understanding how the car works and find a good balance which was pretty much my programme for the day."

Summing up BAR’s progress, test team manager Andrew Alsworth said: "Our test in Valencia this week has given the team a much better insight into our performance levels as we have been able to compare ourselves with five other 2005 specification cars. Overall we've been encouraged with the new car and have run almost 3000 kilometres over the three days.

“We have a few reliability issues to sort out and are confident that these can be addressed during the next few tests. This was our third week in Valencia giving us plenty of opportunity to tune the car into the characteristics of the circuit. Next week we will move the test programme down to Jerez to evaluate the car on a more high speed and demanding circuit."

Toyota had three cars in action, the quickest being Jarno Trulli in the TF105. “The car has been pretty reliable and it also seems to be quick and competitive,” he said. “Our best times compared quite favourably with the others, but there are still some problems with consistency over longer runs. We still have three weeks to go before we leave for Melbourne so we will now investigate what's happening and we hope to resolve that as soon as possible.”

While Ricardo Zonta shook down a TF104B chassis in preparation for a wet-weather test on Saturday, Ralf Schumacher, in a second TF105, was seventh quickest. “We had one or two reliability problems during the week but mechanically the car is good and it seems to compare quite well with the others,” said the German.

“Looking at the last two tests we look slightly better than we expected. Here at Valencia most of the cars were generally putting in times within about half a second of each other. So we're pleased with what we've seen so far and we appear to be pretty competitive. But exactly how competitive we'll only find out in Melbourne when everyone brings what they think is the best package they have.”

Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber rounded off Williams’ Valencia programme with the FW27, the pair going fourth and sixth fastest respectively. “It's always good to get the first test of a new car underway to learn how the set-up works,” reported technical director Sam Michael. “Nick and Mark shared testing duties, checking systems, heat rejection, brake cooling and many other items that are necessary to benchmark with a totally new car. There was also plenty of tyre testing to do with Michelin.

“There were no major reliability problems with the FW27 and, as such, the daily mileage the drivers recorded was high. There is a lot of development work to do before Melbourne to ensure that we are in a competitive position and I've no doubt that 2005 will be a long, hard battle for the Championship with competition from all the teams."

For the coming week, testing switches to Jerez, with the majority of the Formula One teams again expected in action.

Unofficial Friday times from Valencia:
1. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:10.207
2. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:10.601
3. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:10.687
4. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:10.748
5. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:10.812
6. Mark Webber, Williams (Michelin), 1:11.049
7. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:11.634
8. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:11.841
9. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:12.314
10. Adam Carroll, BAR (Michelin), 1:12.585
11. Alan van der Merwe, BAR (Michelin), 1:13.110