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Silverstone day one - Montoya sets the pace 26 Apr 2006

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 22 April 2006

McLaren topped the times at Silverstone on Tuesday at the start of a three-day test session at the British Grand Prix circuit. Juan Pablo Montoya’s best of 1m 21.076s was less than a tenth of a second quicker than that of Honda’s Jenson Button.

McLaren’s focus for the test is general set-up, Michelin tyre selection for both the Spanish and British Grands Prix and development of their Mercedes-Benz V8. Morning showers morning limited Montoya’s tyre programme, but team mate Pedro de la Rosa, working on different priorities, ran all day on his way to 13th.

Honda’s day included a mixture of chassis set-up and aero development work. The team also took advantage of the rain and carried out a short wet-weather tyre programme. Button was joined by Anthony Davidson, fifth fastest, who will hand over to Rubens Barrichello on Wednesday.

The Renaults of Heikki Kovalainen and Fernando Alonso were third and fourth fastest. The weather forced the team to alter their schedule, with Kovalainen switching from tyre to gearbox work for some of the day. Alonso was also hampered by mechanical problems during the afternoon which prevented him completing his programme.

"We had a difficult morning with very poor track conditions,” reported Christian Silk, Renault’s chief test engineer: “We ran general systems checks first of all and finally when the track had improved, we began our programme. Heikki and Fernando were very happy with the balance of the car and were competitive straight away. In spite of the problem we had on Fernando's car we are satisfied with this first day of testing."

Alexander Wurz and Nico Rosberg finished sixth and eighth respectively for Williams, sandwiching the leading Red Bull of Christian Klien. “Alex continued with some front suspension geometry work, which we have been working on over the last few tests, as well as some re-start procedures,” explained Mike Condliffe, Williams’ test team manager. “Both drivers evaluated a new tyre casing, while Nico also completed an initial tyre compound test this afternoon which will lead to a more in depth test later in the week. In conclusion, we have had a very productive day here at Silverstone.”

The BMW Saubers of Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica were ninth and 11th, split by David Coulthard in the second Red Bull. In preparation for the British Grand Prix, Villeneuve completed set-up and aero work, while Kubica did set-up and tyre comparisons.

Neel Jani was 12th in the sole Toro Rosso machine, while fellow Swiss Giorgio Mondini completed the Tuesday line-up for Midland. As well as preparing himself for his Friday driving duties at the British Grand Prix in June, Mondini worked on control systems set-up and general set-up, both of which the team hope will improve their race starts and overall pace.

Testing continues at Silverstone on Wednesday, with dry conditions forecast.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Silverstone:
1. Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (Michelin), 1:21.076
2. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:21.131
3. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:21.241
4. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:21.311
5. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:22.080
6. Alexander Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:22.216
7. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:22.219
8. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:22.256
9. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:22.270
10. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:22.642
11. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:22.702
12. Neel Jani, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:23.351
13. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:23.527
14. Giorgio Mondini, Midland (Bridgestone), 1:24.480