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Jerez day one - McLaren on top 05 Jul 2006

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 4 July 2006. World ©  Hartley/Sutton.

McLaren topped the times in Jerez on Tuesday, as this week’s test session got underway in preparation for the upcoming French Grand Prix. The Woking-based team bounced back from recent disappointment in Indianapolis to set the fastest time in the first day of testing. McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa clocked the best lap of 1m 18.020, with Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen over four tenths of a second behind.

De la Rosa was joined on the track by fellow McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, who was fourth on the timesheet clocking a lap of 1m 18.923. McLaren used the first day in Jerez to work on tyres for the French Grand Prix and to continue developing set-up programmes.

Renault’s Kovalainen set the second fastest time after completing 91 laps. The Finn was joined on track by Jose Maria Lopez, who clocked the fifth fastest time of the day - a 1m 19.470, almost a full second adrift of Kovalainen.

The leading Honda driver was Anthony Davidson in third. Despite stopping twice out on the track, he completed 70 laps and recorded a time of 1m 18.705. Davidson’s team mate James Rossiter also stopped once out on track during the session. The British test driver only managed a time of 1m 19.858 - Tuesday’s slowest time.

Aside from working on the tyre programme for Magny-Cours, both Honda drivers were testing the RA106’s new aerodynamic upgrades, which look set to be used in France next week. On Wednesday, Rubens Barrichello will arrive in Jerez to takeover testing duty from Rossiter.

Alexander Wurz, testing for Williams, was the only driver out on Tuesday with Bridgestone tyres. The Austrian was sixth, clocking a fastest lap of 1m 19.830, less than a tenth of a second in front of Rossiter’s McLaren.

Conditions at Jerez were hot and sunny with track temperatures reaching a sizzling 48 degrees Celsius. Testing will continue at the track on Wednesday, when Ferrari, BMW Sauber, Red Bull and Toyota are expected to join the proceedings.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Jerez:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.020
2. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.478
3. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:18.705
4. Gary Paffett, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.923
5. Jose Maria Lopez, Renault (Michelin), 1:19.470
6. Alexander Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:19.830
7. James Rossiter, Honda (Michelin), 1:19.858