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Paul Ricard day three - Trulli heads rain-hit session 16 May 2008

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Paul Ricard, France, 16 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Paul Ricard, France, 16 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA108 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Paul Ricard, France, 16 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Paul Ricard, France, 16 May 2008.  World © Bumstead/Sutton Ferrari F2008 Nosecone Formula One Testing, Day Three, Paul Ricard, France, 16 May 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton

The predicted rain finally arrived at Paul Ricard on Friday. With the French track switched to a longer layout to simulate Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canadian Grand Prix preparations were the focus, although the poor weather inevitably limited the teams’ progress as they wrapped up this week’s test.

Few drivers managed more than a handful of laps in dry conditions before the rain set in just after 10am, and it was Toyota’s Jarno Trulli who set the pace with a time of 1m 31.360s, from the Renault of Nelson Piquet.

"We were planning a full day concentrating on Montreal-specific aerodynamic and mechanical set-ups but unfortunately the weather spoiled that,” reported Gerd Pfeiffer, Toyota’s test team manager. “We initially fitted wet tyres to do a baseline run in the highest downforce specification we would run in Canada but the rain got worse. The next time we went out, just before lunch, we ran the extreme wets but Jarno reported too much surface water. Then, in the small time we got at the very end of the day, we ran a couple of systems checks. It was a frustrating end to the test but at least we collected a lot of data to prepare for Monaco over the first two days."

McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa was third fastest, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel in the new STR03. Toro Rosso had intended to switch Sebastien Bourdais into the car in the afternoon, but the weather thwarted those plans. Ferrari also decided to pack up early, leaving Felipe Massa fifth in the times, followed by BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld. The German had a minor off at the end of the morning session and although his mechanics had the damage repaired in time for the afternoon’s running, the team opted to stay in the garage.

The rain was particularly infuriating for Red Bull tester Sebastien Buemi, seventh fastest: “It was very frustrating, because I have not had much mileage in a Formula One car so far this year, so I was looking forward to today. We got a couple of runs in dry conditions, but then as I was meant to be doing a long run test, the rain got much heavier and we decided the most sensible option was to stop running.”

Giancarlo Fisichella was eighth for Force India after a clutch problem kept him off track for much of the morning. Team mate Adrian Sutil was tenth quickest after his minimal afternoon running. Sandwiched between them was the Honda of Jenson Button, while Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg completed the line-up in 11th.

The next official track outing for the teams will be first practice for the Monaco Grand Prix. As tradition in Monte Carlo, that will take place on Thursday rather than Friday.

Unofficial Friday test times from Paul Ricard:
1. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:31.360
2. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:31.634
3. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:32.143
4. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:32.480
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:33.246
6. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:33.371
7. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1:34.064
8. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:34.071
9. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:36.501
10. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:43.877
11. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:44.741