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Paul Ricard day three - Toyota to the fore 10 Apr 2006

Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota TF106 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006

Ricardo Zonta gave Toyota a boost on Friday by putting the team top of the timesheets in the week’s final day of testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Zonta’s fastest lap of 1m 04.157s was around two tenths faster than Giancarlo Fisichella’s best effort in the Renault.

It was a day of mixed fortunes, however, for Toyota. While Zonta clocked up 156 laps in the TF106, team mate Olivier Panis was forced to end his programme after 60 laps due to a damaged front wing, the result of an impact with the kerbs at the chicane. The Frenchman thus finished bottom of the times.

"We tried many different tyre specifications during the long runs in the afternoon, as well as working on different aerodynamic set-ups,” reported Zonta. “We have made some improvement, which I hope proves well at Imola, because this is a circuit that is hard for graining, especially when the track is still dirty. Paul Ricard has a similar track surface and the tyre choice we've made this week seems to do well. Now we just need to keep concentrated and keep pushing."

Fisichella was the busiest man on track, running 160 laps, and Renault’s chief test engineer, Christian Silk, was pleased with progress: "A very good day after two busy days here in Paul Ricard. We completed today our programme to prepare Imola and the tyre work was very encouraging. Giancarlo did a great job once again and seemed to be very satisfied with the car and its behaviour to set up changes and to the new envelops. We are going to Barcelona next week which promise to be a very busy session!"

The McLarens of Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett were third and fourth fastest. De la Rosa, in the MP4-21, worked on front suspension, dampers and set-up alongside Michelin tyre testing for San Marino, while Paffett focused on additional Michelin development in the interim MP4-20.

BMW Sauber completed their test with Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica at the wheel. Heidfeld worked on set-up in the morning and validated aerodynamic parts, as well as testing different brake materials. In the afternoon he switched to a tyre programme, but had to stop prematurely due to a hydraulic problem. Kubica validated different set-ups and carried out some fine tuning of the electronic systems. He then completed an extensive tyre test programme.

Unofficial Friday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:04.157
2. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:04.327
3. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:04.591
4. Gary Paffett, McLaren (Michelin), 1:04.899
5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:04.944
6. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:05.673
7. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:06.741