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Paul Ricard day one - Raikkonen on a roll 12 May 2005

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2005

Fresh from his victory in Spain, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was half a second quicker than anyone else in testing at Paul Ricard on Wednesday. Raikkonen topped the times as six teams carried out preparations for the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix.

With the French track set up in short configuration to best mimic the Monte Carlo street circuit, Raikkonen set a fastest lap of 1m 04.106s as he carried out both long and short runs evaluating Michelin’s prime and option tyres for the May 22 race.

Joining him at the start of McLaren’s three-day programme was Alexander Wurz. The Austrian worked on Monaco set-ups, focusing on front and rear suspension. He had a couple of minor interruptions in the morning, but ran without problems in the afternoon, ending the day 11th fastest.

Toyota had their two official test drivers in action, Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis going second and eighth respectively in the TF105, while Renault fielded Franck Montagny and GP2 series leader Heikki Kovalainen in their R25 car. Kovalainen edged his team mate in the times after an amazing 213 laps.

“We had a very successful first day of testing, breaking our own single-day mileage record with more than 750 km run on Heikki's car,” confirmed Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk. “Both drivers were very happy with the car in its Monaco configuration, and we got encouraging results on the tyres, as well as the set-up adaptations required for the bumpy street surface and the new parts on the car.”

The Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi were fifth and sixth in the times, ahead of the BAR of Enrique Bernoldi, the British team opting to continue with their scheduled test programme in spite of their two-race ban.

As Bernoldi focussed exclusively on tyres, BAR team mate Anthony Davidson evaluated further aero updates for the 007, which should appear on the car when the team return for the European Grand Prix on May 29. Davidson finished tenth after an unscheduled engine change, due to an electrical problem, brought a premature end to his day.

Sauber’s Felipe Massa rounded out the Wednesday line-up, the Brazilian completing 148 laps in the C24 to go ninth quickest. "Although the track was a bit damp in the morning we were able to complete our programme of today as scheduled and without technical problems,” explained Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber race engineer. “We mainly focused on the evaluation of new aerodynamic parts and worked with Michelin on the tyre side for the Monaco Grand Prix next week.

“Overall, the day was quite good and productive. Tomorrow Jacques (Villeneuve) will take over the driving and therefore we have planned to run a data validation of the aerodynamic and Michelin tyre tests which we did today. In addition, this week we will conduct a medium downforce and Michelin tyre programme in preparation for the races in Montreal and Indianapolis in June."

Testing continues at Paul Ricard until Friday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:04.106
2. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:04.623
3. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:04.735
4. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:04.786
5. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:05.056
6. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:05.251
7. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:05.273
8. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Michelin), 1:05.304
9. Felipe Massa, Sauber (Michelin), 1:05.414
10. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:05.435
11. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:05.813