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BAR bounce back in Spanish test 08 Apr 2005

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR (Right).
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, First Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 2 April 2005

BAR finished an impressive first and third in Barcelona testing on Thursday. Jenson Button lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in 1m 13.552, a new unofficial record, with his Japanese team mate Takuma Sato less than a second behind.

Button’s time was evidence of the value the new aero package BAR are developing ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix is bringing to the 007. The British driver also carried out suspension and chassis work as he put in a mammoth 141 laps.

Sato, who joined the test on Thursday, was at the wheel of what will be his new race chassis. With initial set-up work complete, he then moved on to Michelin tyre evaluation, before handing the car over to test driver Enrique Bernoldi for the final hour of the day.

Splitting the BARs was the leading Toyota of Jarno Trulli. “We had a good day of running here, putting in over 100 laps of the track,” reported the Italian. “I spent the morning working on set-up for this circuit as part of our preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix here next month. Then in the afternoon we moved onto tyre work.”

Toyota also had Ricardo Zonta in action, the Brazilian going eighth fastest in his second day at the circuit. A clutch problem on his car, and a stiff neck for Trulli, meant Zonta switched to his colleague’s chassis for the final couple of runs of the programme. The Japanese team have decided not to run on Friday due to predicted rain.

Alexander Wurz was the fastest McLaren driver in fourth place after 102 laps. The Austrian undertook tyre testing for the Spanish Grand Prix in an MP4-19B. In the morning he completed a series of short runs, but then lost an hour in the afternoon after the car developed a hydraulic leak.

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen was behind the wheel of the current McLaren MP4-20, testing Michelin’s option tyre for the forthcoming Spanish race. The Finn’s programme ended after 76 laps at around 16:30 with a slipping clutch, a problem the team planned to fix overnight. He finished the day in ninth place.

Leading Ferrari’s programme was Rubens Barrichello, fifth in the new F2005 on the car’s first outing at Barcelona. The Brazilian covered 116 laps as he worked on Bridgestone tyre development and on fine tuning the chassis’ set-up.

In the older Ferrari F2004 M, Luca Badoer took over the programme started by Marc Gene, also focussing on tyres. The Italian totalled 127 laps and will continue work in the car on Friday, while Barrichello hands over the F2005 to Michael Schumacher.

Renault concluded their three-day test with Fernando Alonso (6th) and Giancarlo Fisichella (12th) combining exploratory set-up work and tyre development on the R25. Fisichella’s day was curtailed by a heavy accident early in the afternoon in Turn 3 from which he fortunately escaped unharmed. The Italian will be back in action next week at Paul Ricard alongside tester Franck Montagny.

“Overall, we have completed a very successful week’s work in Barcelona,” reported Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk. “The team made a big effort to bring our programme forward, and we have had three dry, productive days’ running.

“Fernando has experienced few problems and completed plenty of miles, working on promising tyre developments and exploring the car’s set-up. Giancarlo’s week has been more disrupted, but he will drive again next week which will allow him to get more seat time in the car. Overall, we have found good set-up directions for the race here in Barcelona, but also for the next Grand Prix in Imola, and we continue to make good progress in our understanding of the car.”

Williams had all three of their drivers in action. Nick Heidfeld led the way in 10th place, the German focussing on set-up and tyres as he carried out a number of long runs. Mark Webber carried out aero work in the FW27, but pulled out of the test at lunchtime as a precautionary measure due to pain from his damaged ribs. Antonio Pizzonia took over his car and finished the day in 13th place.

Completing the timesheets was Red Bull’s David Coulthard in 11th and Felipe Massa in 15th, the Brazilian taking over the Sauber C24 from team mate Jacques Villeneuve.

"In the morning we first adapted the car's set-up to Felipe's driving style,” explained Sauber race engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara. “We then mainly concentrated on evaluating mechanical development parts as well as new aerodynamic components. At the end of the test day we did a long-run with decent pace as part of our race preparation. Overall, we could feel an improvement today, but still need more understanding to meet our goals."

Conditions on Thursday in Barcelona were again fine and sunny, though they are expected to worsen as testing continues on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:13.552
2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:14.231
3. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:14.247
4. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:14.390
5. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:14.635
6. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.670
7. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:14.755
8. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:14.826
9. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:14.928
10. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:14.932
11. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:14.953
12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:15.027
13. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:15.134
14. Mark Webber, Williams (Michelin), 1:16.051
15. Felipe Massa, Sauber (Michelin), 1:16.942
16. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.242