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Paul Ricard day two - Ferrari in front 28 Apr 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 12 March 2006

Dark clouds, cooler temperatures and a short period of rain in the afternoon did not stop Michael Schumacher putting his Ferrari on top of the three-man timesheet at Paul Ricard on Thursday.

Schumacher outpaced the Toyotas of Ricardo Zonta and Jarno Trulli as he continued the Bridgestone tyre development programme that Luca Badoer had begun on Wednesday. The former champion completed 125 laps of the 3E-SC version of the French track, the quickest in a time of 58.287s.

Zonta was second fastest in the Toyota TF106, while team mate Trulli enjoyed his second day at the wheel of the new TF106B. The Italian racked up 136 laps in the revised machine, his best time three tenths slower than Zonta’s.

"We spent the day checking different set-ups and balance of the new car,” said Trulli. “In addition to this, we worked on dry and wet tyres tests as well as preparations for the next race at Nurburgring. I feel the car shows promise, but like everything that is new, we still have work to do and we will see at the next test how the car evolves."

Summing up Toyota’s progress, chief race and test engineer, Dieter Gass, added: "Altogether we had a good test day. In the morning we spent some time with the old car analyzing and trying to understand some of the issues we had at the race last week. We found some positive results and this is a step forward.

“Both cars were performing tyre tests and we added a wet tyre test to the programme, due to the rainfall that we experienced. The new car was running well without any major issues, which is also very good. We will continue to work on this new car to maximize its potential, but we are happy with the results we gathered today."

Eleswhere, Ferrari were also in action at Fiorano in Italy, with Felipe Massa carrying out a second day of testing, evaluating new components and electronics. Despite some rain there too, the Brazilian completed a total of 61 laps (six on the short version of the track), with a best time of 57.134s.

Testing continues at both Paul Ricard and Fiorano on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 58.287s
2. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), 58.601s
3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 58.885s