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Jerez day one - Ralf sets the standard 14 Jul 2005

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, 9 July 2005

Toyota bounced back from the disappointment of just a single point at Silverstone by setting the fastest time at Jerez on Wednesday. Ralf Schumacher clocked the best lap of 1m 17.632s, with BAR’s Jenson Button less than a tenth of a second behind.

Schumacher was joined at Toyota by third driver Ricardo Zonta, 11th quickest, both men continuing the search for more race pace from the TF105. Test driver Olivier Panis was also in action for the team, giving their 2006-spec 2.4 litre V8 engine its first outing. He ended the day around five seconds off Schumacher’s pace.

At BAR, Button carried out an aero programme in the Honda-powered 007, while Anthony Davidson concentrated on a suspension evaluation in a second car. Like all the other drivers, both had their afternoon progress somewhat thwarted by frequent red lights on track - six in total.

Franck Montagny was the leading Renault driver in third. Both he and Giancarlo Fisichella, fifth fastest, experienced delays to their programme, but the Frenchman eventually made progress on tyres, while the Italian conducted set-up and suspension work before a brake problem ended his running.

“It was a slightly frustrating day,” said chief test engineer Christian Silk. “We struggled to get a good balance on Franck's car, which delayed us before he could progress with the tyre performance work, while Giancarlo's day was cut short with a technical problem. In spite of the fact that neither driver was completely happy with the car, our times look competitive, but we will be hoping to achieve much more tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa kicked off Sauber’s three-day programme with fourth in the times, the Swiss team focussing their efforts on high-downforce configurations on the C24 for forthcoming races.

“We have started to validate the new aerodynamic parts which were introduced in Silverstone last weekend and gathered good information,” reported test engineer Paul Russell. “In addition, Felipe did some Michelin tyre work for Hockenheim and Budapest.”

The Red Bulls of Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi were sixth and eighth fastest respectively, sandwiching the BAR of Davidson. Behind them came the McLarens of Juan Pablo Montoya and Alexander Wurz.

Montoya’s programme of tyre, suspension and aero work was interrupted early on by an oil leak and then by an engine failure in the afternoon. Wurz, however, reported no major problems as he worked on tyre preparations for the German Grand Prix, completing short runs in the morning and concentrating on heavy fuel loads and longer runs in the afternoon.

Williams completed the full complement of Michelin teams, in what proved a difficult day for the BMW-powered team. With Nico Rosberg they continued efforts to resolve the current issues with the FW27’s revised bodywork package. However, the GP2 star was forced to pull out of the session at lunchtime complaining of stomach pains. This meant Antonio Pizzonia, who spent the morning running the team’s 2005 V8 for the first time, was forced to switch to Rosberg’s car in the afternoon. The pair finished 12th and 13th.

Conditions were fine, if rather hot, at Jerez, with track temperatures reaching a sizzling 51 degrees Celsius. The session continues until Friday.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Ferrari continued their programme of aero and Bridgestone tyre development at Paul Ricard in France. Marc Gene completed 123 laps in the F2005, the best a 1m 33.905s, just over a second quicker than he went on Tuesday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez:
1. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.632
2. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.711
3. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.763
4. Felipe Massa, Sauber (Michelin), 1:17.997
5. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.060
6. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.238
7. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.411
8. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.449
9. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.579
10. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.709
11. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:18.753
12. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Michelin), 1:19.484
13. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:20.102
14. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Michelin), 1:22.443