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Barcelona day three - Toyota move ahead 14 Apr 2006

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF106.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006

Toyota’s revival in form continued on Thursday as Jarno Trulli clocked the fastest time in another busy and competitive test session at the Circuit de Catalunya. There were five teams in the top five, and just a second covered the top 13 drivers.

“We have improved the tyres and the car set-up a lot since the first two races, and finally as a result this is fitting my driving style,” reported Trulli. “This is a huge improvement for me and today's results show that we are moving ahead. We still have a lot to work on, but everything has to go step by step. The team has worked hard to find the optimal solutions and I am confident that for myself I have found a good direction and that the tyres are working better with our car."

World champion Fernando Alonso was second fastest for Renault, as he and team mate Giancarlo Fisichella evaluated and mapped the team’s latest B-spec V8 engine. Third fastest was Michael Schumacher, who continued development work on new components for the Ferrari 248 F1, while Nick Heidfeld made it two Germans in the top four as he carried on with BMW Sauber’s Spanish Grand Prix preparations alongside team mate Jacques Villeneuve.

McLaren were also working on tyres for the forthcoming Barcelona race, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Juan Pablo Montoya 14th. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg was the leading Williams in seventh place, nine spots ahead of team mate Mark Webber.

“Today both Mark and Nico practised starts at the beginning of the session while also evaluating internal mechanical parts for reliability,” explained Mike Condliffe, Williams’ test team manager. “Nico also successfully completed some back to back comparisons on new suspension parts while Mark tested software control of the transmission, before the pair both continued tyre evaluations for Imola in the afternoon.”

Honda had race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in action, the pair racking up over 280 laps between them, with a mixture of tyre, set-up and aero work. Button was eighth in the timesheets, Barrichello 11th.

Christian Klien and David Coulthard wrapped up Red Bull’s three-day test, which chief test engineer, Ian Morgan, described as the team’s best of the year. "We also evaluated some new aerodynamic parts with pleasing results and these should bring an improvement for the next race in Imola," he added. "It was also good for both drivers to get plenty of time to work on set-up and find a car balance that they are happy with."

Sister team Toro Rosso also concluded their programme, with Scott Speed enjoying a high mileage, trouble-free day. The American concentrated on general set-up work for the forthcoming San Marino Grand Prix. "We did some fuel level evaluation and also carried out some damper testing, as this is a very important part of the package for riding the kerbs at Imola," said the team’s chief engineer, Laurent Mekies.

Super Aguri were the tenth and final team present, with Takuma Sato managing just 23 laps on his way to 18th and last in the timesheets. “Each test day takes us a little further up our very steep learning curve,” commented Mark Preston, the team’s chief technical officer. “We had planned a number of tyre tests today however running was cut short due to hydraulic problems. We will restart testing tomorrow with Taku carrying out an important tyre construction test followed by Yuji (Ide) evaluating a number of compounds that will help the SAF1 Team better understand the envelope of the car.”

Testing in Barcelona continues on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:14.522
2. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.532
3. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:14.701
4. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:14.940
5. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:14.996
6. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:15.105
7. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:15.205
8. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.270
9. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.299
10. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:15.347
11. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.387
12. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:15.410
13. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:15.547
14. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:15.689
15. Felipe Massa, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:15.721
16. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:16.030
17. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:16.610
18. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (Bridgestone), 1:19.826