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Jerez day four - Schumacher quickest for Ferrari 10 Jul 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari 248 F1. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 7 July 2006. World ©  Hartley/Sutton.

Michael Schumacher stormed to the top of the timesheets as testing drew to a close in Jerez on Friday. In intense heat - track temperatures exceeded 49 degrees Celsius - Schumacher lapped the Spanish Circuit in a best time of 1m 16.633.

The Ferrari driver’s time was almost a second quicker than the second fastest car on the day - the BMW Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve, and over three tenths of a second faster than the best time of the week so far - 1m 16:852 - set by Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday.

Schumacher was joined by Luca Badoer in the second Ferrari. The Italian test driver was fourth fastest with a 1m 18.770 despite spinning off the track at one point. Both drivers continued to test new aerodynamic components for the 248 F1 and evaluate tyre set-up for the French Grand Prix.

Meanwhile BMW Sauber’s positive test session continued on the last day in Jerez. Race driver Jacques Villeneuve was second fastest after setting a time of 1:17.702. The Canadian was the busiest man out on track on Friday, completing a grand total of 97 laps of the Spanish circuit.

Test driver Robert Kubica continued to drive instead of Nick Heidfeld in the second BMW Sauber. Heidfeld has been forced to sit out the test to recover from a muscle twinge following his dramatic crash in the United States Grand Prix. Kubica stopped out on track during the morning session with engine problems but he eventually lapped the Spanish circuit in 1m 18.191 to be third fastest.

For Toyota, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli were fifth and sixth fastest respectively. Both drivers continued to work on tyres and set-up for the French Grand Prix but were hampered by engine problems.

"Today did not run as smoothly as yesterday because we had to change our engines on both cars,” explained Toyota test Team manager, Gary Pfeiffer. “We were running pretty hard and working on specific test items, so these changes were expected, yet we lost some time during the day. Nevertheless, we were able to complete the preparations for Magny-Cours and made our tyre choice based on the data from today and yesterday."

Red Bull’s Christian Klein was seventh quickest during Friday’s session with a time of 1m 19.696. The high temperatures in Jerez meant the team could put into practice a new cooling package for the RB2-04. Chief Test Engineer for Red Bull, Ian Morgan commented: “The new cooling package appears to be a definite improvement, which should bring some performance advantage at higher temperatures.”

Slowest on Friday was Mark Webber for Williams. The Australian completed the fourth and final day of testing with a time of 1m 19.721. Although Webber’s session was interrupted by an accident in the morning which damaged his car’s front wing and mechanical problems in the afternoon, the team felt the test was successful in terms of engine development. “We are continuing an aggressive programme of engine development through the season,” confirmed principal engineer Sean O’Mahoney. “As such at this week’s Jerez test we tested some upgraded engine parts and ran extended engine duty above the normal race weekend mileage. The drivers were positive about the engine performance so we are looking forward to the race at Magny-Cours next weekend.”

Elsewhere on Friday, Christian Albers was in the cockpit for Midland’s one day test session at Silverstone. Although showers hampered his afternoon session, the Dutchman completed 97 laps and tested a major front suspension upgrade to the M16-03.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez
1. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:16.633
2. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:17.702
3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.191
4. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.770
5. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:18.921
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:19.242
7. Christian Klein, Red Bull Racing, (Michelin), 1:19.696
8. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:19.721