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Jerez day three - Spanish one-two for Honda 21 Jul 2006

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda F1 RA106. Formula 1 Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain. 20th July 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton.

After their recent disappointments, Honda at last had something to smile about on Thursday as Rubens Barrichello set the fastest time in testing at Jerez. The Brazilian lapped the Spanish circuit in 1m 16.980s, with team mate Jenson Button second quickest on a 1m 17.408s.

Honda's closest rivals were Renault, with test driver Heikki Kovalainen clocking 1m 17.443s to go third fastest. The Finn continued the team’s intensive tyre selection programme for the next three races and completed 117 laps.

Jose Maria Lopez, also driving for Renault, was 14th at the end of the session. As on Wednesday, Lopez tested with a low-downforce configuration but during the afternoon the car suffered several mechanical problems and was only able to complete 47 laps in total. Fernando Alonso will replace Lopez on Friday and work through tyre selection with Michelin.

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica was fourth fastest, clocking a lap of 1m 17.972s - over half a second quicker than his best time on Wednesday. Kubica spent the morning testing a new front wing whilst his afternoon was devoted to tyre set-up for the Turkish Grand Prix. In the other BMW Sauber, Nick Heidfeld set a fastest lap of 1m 18.177s to put him sixth in the time sheets. In the morning, Heidfeld focused on different tyre compounds for next week's Grand Prix at Hockenheim, whilst in the afternoon he carried out brake work.

Splitting the two BMW Saubers in fifth place was McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn’s first day at the track focused on tyres for the next three races in Germany, Hungary and Istanbul, but he was also able to find time to test new aero and mechanical developments to the MP4-21. Meanwhile fellow McLaren race driver, Pedro de la Rosa - who had been quickest on the first two days of testing - was relegated to 11th fastest. The Spaniard’s session ended prematurely after just 37 laps following engine problems.

Next on the timesheet, behind Raikkonen, was the Red Bull of David Coulthard who set the seventh quickest time, whilst fellow Red Bull team mate Robert Doornbos took tenth with a 1m 19.104s.

The fastest Bridgestone runner was Olivier Panis in the Toyota, in eighth. The Frenchman had the busiest day out on track - completing 127 laps - after Toyota team mate Ricardo Zonta suffered catastrophic engine problems on his first lap out of the pits. Zonta was unable to complete a single lap and was forced to sit out of the rest of the session.

"Unfortunately I could not even get any work done today because I had an engine problem on my first lap of the day,” explained Zonta. “I went out for the first time after doing an installation lap and noticed that the engine was feeling strange. I stopped the car after seeing some smoke and it turned out that the car would have to be worked on the rest of the day. Olivier did a good job taking over my long runs as I could not complete them."

Williams race driver Nico Rosberg took over testing duties from Alexander Wurz to go ninth fastest with a best time of 1m 18.996s. "We were testing new aero parts and cooling options in preparation for the Budapest race," explained test team manager Mike Condliffe. "We then continued with some set-up changes and the suspension testing we started yesterday before moving onto the usual compound tests.”

Completing the Thursday timesheets were Vitantanio Liuzzi, who managed a 1m 19.216 in his Toro Rosso, and Midland's Tiago Montiero, who finished just behind the Italian in 13th spot.

"It was a pretty useful test in the end, as we tried the new rear suspension and it proved quite a good upgrade," commented Monteiro. "We also ran a tyre program for the next few races and once again, it was very positive, as we found some interesting info and set-ups."

Elsewhere on Thursday, Ferrari tested for the second day running at the Paul Ricard circuit in Southern France. Felipe Massa was joined on track by Michael Schumacher and the pair continued Bridgestone’s tyre development programme. Schumacher completed 152 laps and set a fastest time of 59.544s whilst Massa ran 145 laps with a best of 59.073s.

Testing continues at both circuits on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez
1. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:16.980
2. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:17.408
3. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.443
4. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:17.972
5. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.028
6. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:18.177
7. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:18.719
8. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:18.802
9. Nico Rosberg, Williams, Bridgestone), 1:18.957
10. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:19.104
11. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:19.129
12. Vitantanio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:19.216
13. Tiago Monteiro, Midland (Bridgestone), 1:19.286
14. Jose Maria Lopez, Renault (Michelin), 1:20.634
15. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Bridgestone), No time