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Paul Ricard day two - rain hits testing 25 Mar 2005

Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota TF105.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 4 March 2005

The weather made life difficult for the teams testing in France on Thursday, as sporadic rain hampered their programmes at the Paul Ricard circuit. In the end it was Toyota’s Ricardo Zonta who topped the times, setting his best lap during a dry spell mid afternoon.

The day started fine, but rain arrived mid morning, leaving the circuit wet for much of the session. Zonta’s best time came in the Japanese team’s older TF104B machine, while Jarno Trulli ran the TF105 to eighth in the times. However, an off-track excursion for the Italian damaged the car and brought a premature end to his session.

"It was quite an eventful two days for us this week with some technical problems affecting our running,” explained Dieter Gass, Toyota’s chief race and test engineer. “With Ricardo we were using the TF104B car to assess Michelin tyres for Imola, as well as more general tyre development testing. Olivier also worked on tyres yesterday, more specifically on option tyre evaluation for Bahrain. He also carried out some software development work over his 70 laps.

“Jarno was due to begin set-up and aero work for next weekend's Bahrain GP, but poor weather and a spin into the barriers late in the day hampered his running. We nevertheless feel confident enough for Bahrain and decided to stop our programme one day earlier than planned to save one of our restricted number of test days."

McLaren used the damp conditions to test a new Michelin intermediate tyre, as Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz went second and third quickest in their MP4-19Bs. De la Rosa also managed to evaluate a new front-suspension package for the MP4-20 when the track dried in the afternoon and the pair eventually completed 200 laps between them, bringing the team’s two-day test to a close.

Renault again had tester Franck Montagny and driver development programme member Heikki Kovalainen in action in the R25. Given the rain, the team chose to focus primarily on accumulating mileage for reliability work, and then some set-up development when conditions improved during the afternoon.

“The rain shower this morning interrupted our running, but we were nevertheless able to conduct useful software development and reliability running in less than ideal conditions,” commented Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk. “Once the circuit had dried, both drivers began set-up programmes and made good progress. Overall, we had another useful day.”

At BAR Jenson Button joined Anthony Davidson, replacing Wednesday runner Enrique Bernoldi. Button was seventh in the 007, working on aerodynamics and tyres, while Davidson was sixth in an older chassis, also looking at tyres. However, the team were not pleased with the conditions and are hoping for better when they continue at Paul Ricard on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:03.840
2. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:04.496
3. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:04.593
4. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:04.695
5. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:04.843
6. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:05.180
7. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:05.309
8. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:06.720