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Jerez day three - McLaren near lap record 30 Sep 2005

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 4 March 2005

McLaren stamped their authority on Jerez testing on Thursday as they finished a commanding one-two at the Spanish circuit. Pedro de la Rosa set a best time of 1m 15.737s to get within a tenth of a second of Michael Schumacher’s unofficial 2004 lap record.

De la Rosa, who ran a total of 108 laps, was progressing with the Michelin tyre programme for the Chinese Grand Prix he began on Wednesday, completing short runs in the morning. In the afternoon he took over damper work from team mate Alex Wurz and was focusing on aerodynamic developments.

"With the Chinese Grand Prix just a few weeks away, this test has been important in making sure we make the correct Michelin tyre choice for the race,” said De la Rosa. “I will be the team's Friday driver out in Shanghai, and am looking forward to seeing how the work we have done here at Jerez will help us out on the racetrack."

Wurz, meanwhile, was second fastest after 118 laps. The Austrian also carried out tyre work, as well as rear-suspension development for the MP4-20 ahead of the final two races of the 2005 season.

"These two days have gone well and we have made some positive steps forward, completing a distance of 840km with no problems,” reported Wurz. “I can't believe this is the final test before the end of the season, the year seems to have gone by so quickly."

McLaren’s arch rivals in the battle for the constructors’ championship, Renault, finished third fastest, courtesy of Franck Montagny, who was just a tenth of a second behind Wurz, but almost a full second down on De la Rosa. Running alongside Montagny was Renault Driver Development programme member Lucas Di Grassi, making his Formula One debut with the team. The Brazilian managed just over 50 laps as he familiarised himself with the R25, and finished at the bottom of the timesheets.

Another Formula One debutant was to be found at BAR where 2004 IRL champion Tony Kanaan got his first taste of the team’s 007 machine. Like fellow Brazilian Di Grassi, Kanaan clocked up 51 laps, despite a couple of spins and some technical problems. His best lap put him seventh in the times, around 1.5 seconds behind BAR regular Anthony Davidson, back with the team after his recent Jordan test.

Christian Klien took over Red Bull’s programme and was an impressive-looking fourth, almost matching Montagny’s Renault pace.

At Toyota, Jarno Trulli replaced Wednesday runner Ralf Schumacher at the wheel of the revised TF105B. It is not yet clear whether the team will use the latest machine in Japan or China, but they have confirmed a new-specification V10 for both races. Meanwhile, Ricardo Zonta was eighth fastest to Trulli’s sixth, as he continued testing the team’s 2006 V8 engine.

Testing concludes at Jerez on Friday.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Michael Schumacher took over from Marc Gene for Ferrari at Paul Ricard in France. Schumacher continued Bridgestone tyre work for the last two rounds, setting a best time of 1m 11,193s after 83 laps.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.737
2. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.417
3. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:16.526
4. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:16.789
5. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.531
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Michelin), 1:18.833
7. Tony Kanaan, BAR (Michelin), 1:19.115
8. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:20.106
9. Lucas Di Grassi, Renault (Michelin), 1:21.504