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Jerez day three - McLaren stay on top 18 Jul 2005

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, 1 July 2005

Pedro de la Rosa led the way for McLaren as testing drew to a close at Jerez on Friday. In intense heat - track temperature exceeded 50 degrees Celsius - de la Rosa lapped the Spanish circuit in a best time of 1m 16.919s, just over two tenths quicker than the Williams of Nick Heidfeld.

"A productive day of testing for me today despite the delay earlier this afternoon,” said de la Rosa after his MP4-20 required a gearbox change at lunchtime. “I was concentrating on set up work in the morning moving onto the Michelin tyre programme in the afternoon. I completed several long stints this afternoon and we will now sit down with the engineers to evaluate all the information and select the tyres for the forthcoming grands prix."

In the second McLaren, Alexander Wurz, in action for the third consecutive day, continued with assessing the prime and option Michelin tyre for the German Grand Prix next weekend. In addition, a new front wing package was tested on his chassis throughout the day. Wurz switched cars to the one that Juan Pablo Montoya had been driving all week, as in Hockenheim the spare McLaren will be set up for the Colombian and with Wurz taking on third driver duties at this event he had the opportunity to acclimatise to Montoya’s set-up.

Heidfeld’s second place gave Williams a much-needed boost. According to the team, the test provided a number of positive developments, including resolutions to some of the technical issues which have compromised their technical performance at the last two Grands Prix. They also validated some new aero components due for introduction at Hockenheim.

“We have made some good progress, which is evident in the lap times,” confirmed technical director Sam Michael. “The test team has done a great job over the course of the test, despite the demanding conditions where temperatures have soared to over 40°C. We’re looking forward to Hockenheim now where we will have some more aerodynamic parts to improve the FW27.”

Ricardo Zonta was third fastest as he completed Toyota’s programme, alongside Ralf Schumacher, 12th, and Olivier Panis, 14th in the V8-powered car (see separate story). “We had a number of different brake ducts to test,” explained Zonta. “I also had a tyre programme to work through which was mainly concerned with evaluating the rubber available for the German Grand Prix.

"I was mainly concentrating on longer runs and race tyre assessment while Ralf did most of the performance work. I am confident that we have learned some information that will be useful at Hockenheim.”

Schumacher added: "I just wanted to run through some different options with my race engineer because due to the accident I had at Indianapolis I have not really been able to test for the last month or so. That's why I have taken full advantage of the last opportunity before the summer break and done a full three-day test."

Summing up Toyota’s three-day session, chief test engineer Gerd Pfeiffer commented: “It has been very interesting with the drivers all running very different test agendas. Ralf has been doing a tyre programme as well as working on his own individual set-up with his race engineer. Ricardo's schedule has included some comparison tests for brake cooling and we had Olivier doing the new V8 engine programme. Wednesday was the first time that we put the V8 engine on the track and so we did not do so many laps, but it was a good first run. On Thursday we had some technical issues with the engine and the hydraulics, but nothing more than you would expect at an engine shakedown. On Friday we did quite a lot of laps in the morning and Olivier was very impressed with the general performance level.”

Takuma Sato, Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi were charged with BAR’s final day’s work. Sato was the quickest, in fifth, despite a mid-morning engine failure costing him time. Davidson was seventh as he continued the evaluation of new aero components started by Jenson Button earlier in the week, while Bernoldi, running a hybrid development chassis for 2006 systems, was 13th. The Brazilian alternated his running with the other two BAR cars.

"This week has been incredibly hot, which has been the perfect preparation for the next three races in Hockenheim, Budapest and Istanbul,” said Mark Ellis, BAR’s chief test engineer. “Once again we have been able to test many new components, thanks to the hard work at the factory, in our efforts to get back on terms with the championship leaders."

At Sauber, Jacques Villeneuve took over the C24 from team mate Felipe Massa and covered 95 laps on his to eighth in the timesheets. "We had a good morning session and could achieve a reasonably quick lap time,” explained test engineer Paul Russell. “The car was fast immediately, which enabled us to start with the scheduled programme straightaway.

“In the afternoon we worked with Michelin and finished the tyre selection process for the forthcoming races in Hockenheim and Budapest. In addition, we did some long-runs and conducted further aerodynamic tests. Overall, considering the happenings the last days we nevertheless got quite a lot done. For us this was the final high-downforce test this season and after all it was a productive week."

Renault’s Franck Montagny finished the day in sixth place. The Frenchman was joined by Finnish youngster Heikki Kovalainen, who went ninth to end the day just ahead of the Red Bull pairing of David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Elsewhere on Friday, Michael Schumacher was in the cockpit of the F2005 for Ferrari’s fourth and final day of the week at Paul Ricard in France. The world champion, taking over from official test driver Marc Gene, used two different track layouts as he continued Bridgestone tyre development, completing a total of 137 laps.

The teams now go into their six-week summer test ban, with the next major session due to take place at Monza in Italy commencing August 24.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.919
2. Nick Heidfeld, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.204
3. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.259
4. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.341
5. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.350
6. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.369
7. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.534
8. Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (Michelin), 1:17.593
9. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.656
10. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:17.850
11. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.184
12. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:18.933
13. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:21.182
14. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Michelin), 1:21.314