End of testing at Jerez

Testing came to a close at Jerez on Thursday and most teams will not be back on a test track until November after the end of season ban. Nine drivers from six teams were on duty and Renault tester Franck Montagny finished at the top of the times with a best of 1:16.301. Race driver Fernando Alonso was also at work for the French squad and was fifth.

Franck Montagny.
Photo by Dave Dyer.

Antonio Pizzonia, who had been fastest on the first two days, was second for Williams, just a couple of tenths behind. He concluded the team's test a little prematurely after a technical problem but finished the week's programme of brake tests and system checks, as well as set up and tyre work for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Ricardo Zonta was third quickest and Toyota's official test driver was joined through the week by second tester Ryan Briscoe and Driver Academy youngsters Franck Perera and Katsuyuki Hiranaka. Zonta drove for all three days and Briscoe on Thursday, and they worked on electronics, tyres and set up. Briscoe was seventh fastest today.

For Perera and Hiranaka, who race in F3, it was their first circuit test of an F1 car -- previously the pair had only done straight line testing at Vairano. "I feel the day went well, and I was happy to have a chance to learn and to help the team with their wheel and damper tests," said Perera, who drove on Tuesday. "I hope to have another F1 test some time, but my own season is not finished yet."

Hiranaka, who was on track yesterday, was equally happy with his test. "I already knew the F1 gearshift, clutch, throttle and brakes from our straight line test at Vairano, but driving round corners was a new experience," he commented. "I now feel confident with the slow speed sections, though I still have to get used to the quicker corners."

McLaren's test duo of Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa finished their week in fourth and sixth respectively. Anthony Davidson took over from Enrique Bernoldi to wind up BAR's test and was eighth on the time sheet. He focused mainly on long-run tyre tests and development work. Jaguar's Bj?rn Wirdheim completed the times in ninth.

While most teams were finishing off their programmes, Ferrari was just starting work at Fiorano. Team tester Luca Badoer shared a chassis with Andrea Bertolini to carry out aerodynamic and tyre work. Badoer was the quicker of the two, setting a best of 58.835 over 83 laps, while Bertolini completed 38 laps with a best of 59.408. Badoer will move to Vallelunga tomorrow.