The youngsters are setting the pace at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, with Renault's Fernando Alonso topping the test times on the third day. The 22-year old Spaniard didn't break the lap record as Jenson Button and Takuma Sato before him but...
The youngsters are setting the pace at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, with Renault's Fernando Alonso topping the test times on the third day. The 22-year old Spaniard didn't break the lap record as Jenson Button and Takuma Sato before him but set a respectable 1:14.670 in the R24, less than a second off Sato's best of yesterday.
One young driver who wasn't so lucky was Sauber's Felipe Massa, who crashed heavily on only his fourth lap of the morning. A front suspension problem sent the Brazilian into the barriers at turn one in a heavy impact, but after hospital checks he was pronounced none the worse for his escapade.
Only fractionally slower, Williams' Ralf Schumacher was second fastest after Alonso and the team also had test driver Marc Gen? and Juan Pablo Montoya on duty, fourth and eighth respectively. Ralf and Montoya drove an FW26 apiece, the German working on aerodynamics and mechanical set up and Montoya practicing pit stops. Gen? worked on tyres in the FW25 with last year's BMW engine on board.
Button, in the new 006, was the better of the two BARs present, third, and teammate Sato clocked the eleventh fastest time of the day to conclude the team's test. It was the last outing of the '04 Concept Car -- Sato gets a crack at the 006 at Jerez next week.
Ferrari also had two cars at work, Rubens Barrichello, fifth, and test driver Luca Badoer, ninth, both behind the wheel of an F2003-GA. The pair worked on tyres -- Badoer will continue next week at Jerez and Barrichello will have his first taste of the F2004 on Saturday at Mugello.
The new Ferrari was in the capable hands of Michael Schumacher at Imola, continuing with development work started last week at Fiorano. Michael clocked a best of 1:21.646 over 61 laps.
Toyota's race driver duo continued at Barcelona, Olivier Panis seventh and Cristiano da Matta 10th. McLaren's trio of Kimi Raikkonen, tester Pedro de la Rosa and David Coulthard were in formation, with Raikkonen ahead in 12th, de la Rosa 13th and Coulthard 14th. Massa's aborted day left him last of the fifteen drivers present.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Jordan launched the EJ14 at Silverstone in a very low-key affair and commenced the first official test of the car after the shakedown on Monday. Nick Heidfeld drove the new chassis and Timo Glock the EJ13. Heidfeld reported no technical problems and completed 44 laps, while Glock ran for 74 laps working on tyres and software programmes. No times were given.