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Red Bull's Speed impressive 25 Mar 2005

Scott Speed (USA) Red Bull Racing. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 23 March 2005. World © McNeil/Sutton

American Scott Speed outpaced two Williams drivers as he topped his first ever Formula One test with Red Bull on Thursday. Speed, running alongside fellow Red Bull Junior Team member Neel Jani, finished over half a second clear of Nick Heidfeld at Barcelona.

Speed and Swiss star Jani, both due to compete in the F3000-replacement series, GP2, later this year, were enjoying a one-off, two-day test with the team and all three parties were pleased with the progress made at the Spanish circuit, which Speed was experiencing for the first time.

"The car is definitely the most powerful car I've ever driven," he said. "This test all went smoothly with no dramas. My first impression was ‘wow!’ The braking power particularly impressed me. I really enjoyed myself and it was very productive, as the 68 laps I completed have qualified me for a Superlicense and I've now learnt a track that I will be racing on later in the year. I found all the data analysis side fascinating and felt fine at the end of the test, having trained real hard for this."

Jani, who has previously tested with Sauber and Red Bull, commented: "Even though I have tested a Formula One car twice before, this was still an exciting two days for me. Especially the last morning, when the track was wet and very slippery. I was amazed at how much grip and stability the cars still have in these conditions. I felt fit and capable of driving an F1 car."

"Both drivers did a good job, making no mistakes," summed up Red Bull’s sporting director Christian Horner. "Given that Scott had never driven a Formula One car before, he put in a solid drive getting used to all the extra horsepower. Neel also had to contend with a damp track on the final morning, before running in the dry in the afternoon and he provided valuable feedback to our engineers."

Either Speed or Jani could in theory get a Grand Prix call up from Red Bull later this year as a third driver, should the team choose to give Vitantonio Liuzzi an opportunity to race in place of Christian Klien.

Williams were the only other team present at Barcelona, with Heidfeld and tester Antonio Pizzonia splitting the Red Bulls in the times. The pair completed 230 laps of set-up and tyre work between them in preparation for Bahrain, with the German finishing the day around half a second up on the Brazilian. Both continue testing at the circuit on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Scott Speed, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:16.125
2. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:16.677
3. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.176
4. Neel Jani, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.035