De la Rosa fastest at Jerez

It was a busy day at Jerez on Wednesday, despite the early morning fog that delayed testing for about an hour. Once the weather cleared there were 15 drivers from seven teams at work, and it was McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa who was fastest at the end of the day, 1:16.841. Juan Pablo Montoya, who was at the top of the times for McLaren on Tuesday, was fourth fastest.

Pedro de la Rosa.
Photo by David Lopez.

Antonio Pizzonia was second on the time sheet, about six tenths down on de la Rosa, and Williams also had Mark Webber on duty, sixth. The pair drove interim cars; Pizzonia worked on system checks and tyre evaluations, while Webber focused on brakes and tyres. Nick Heidfeld will be behind the wheel on Thursday, alongside Webber.

Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher continued for Toyota, third and fifth fastest respectively, and Renault test driver Franck Montagny was seventh. The French squad also had Giancarlo Fisichella present and the Italian was eighth, just a few hundredths behind Montagny. Both worked on tyre development.

Separating the two Renaults was David Coulthard, who was on track for Red Bull Racing. It was only confirmed today that the Scot would drive this week, fuelling rumours that he will race for Red Bull next season. Christian Klien was also at work for the team and was 11th, half a second off Coulthard, and Vitantonio Liuzzi rounded off the times in 15th.

BAR's Jenson Button and test driver Anthony Davidson were 10th and 14th respectively and Ferrari was the other team present. Marc Gen? was 12th and fellow tester Luca Badoer 13th as they worked on tyres and new components. Rubens Barrichello will take to the test track on Thursday for the first time this winter.

Meanwhile, at Fiorano, there was a surprising driver behind the wheel of an F2004. Carlos Reutemann, who raced for Ferrari in the late seventies and won five Grands Prix, completed 17 laps in a special test. "It was really exciting and I enjoyed myself very much!" Reutemann said of his present-day drive.

"The car is impressive, especially in terms of the power from the engine. It is completely different to the car that I drove back in my day. Watching on television, Formula One today can look easy, but having tried it myself I can guarantee you that is not the case!"