Gene leads the way at Barcelona test

Winter testing got under way at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on November 23rd, although it was a quiet first day. Four drivers from three teams were on track and it was Ferrari's test driver Marc Gené, newly arrived after four years at ...

Winter testing got under way at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on November 23rd, although it was a quiet first day. Four drivers from three teams were on track and it was Ferrari's test driver Marc Gené, newly arrived after four years at Williams, who topped the times. Ferrari announced yesterday that it had signed the Spaniard.

Gené's best was 1:15.662 in the F2004, and the team also had long-time tester Luca Badoer at work, third fastest. The pair worked on tyres and set up. At Vairano Ferrari continued straight line testing with Andrea Bertollini behind the wheel, where he covered 440 kilometres.

Second on the time sheet at Barcelona was Toyota's Jarno Trulli, some eight tenths behind Gené. Ralf Schumacher is expected to have his first taste of the Toyota this week, and test driver Ricardo Zonta will also be on duty.

Mark Webber made his debut for Williams and put in four shakedown laps as he acclimatised to the car. The team does not officially start its programme until tomorrow, when Webber will be joined by Antonio Pizzonia. Anthony Davidson and Nick Heidfeld will try out for Williams at Jerez in December.

Minardi continued its solo session at Misano, today with Australians Will Power and Will Davidson having their first drive of an F1 car. While they got used to the PS04B, Chanock Nissany tested the interim 2005 aero package.

Team principal Paul Stoddart said of the Aussies: "They both acquitted themselves with distinction, in that they were on the pace quickly and set very competitive times after only a relatively small number of laps."

Tomorrow is when the action heats up at Barcelona -- expected to make a first appearance for their respective new teams this week are Juan Pablo Montoya for McLaren, Giancarlo Fisichella for Renault and Jacques Villeneuve for Sauber.

BAR will start its winter programme with the '05 Concept Car and Jenson Button, Takuma Sato and tester Enrique Bernoldi will all be in attendance. "As was the case last year, the purpose of the '05 Concept car is to evaluate the performance and reliability of our new Honda engine, the transmission and rear end systems," said technical director Geoff Willis.

Red Bull Racing will take to the test track for the first time in its new incarnation, with Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Björn Wirdheim all on driving duties. The car will run in an interim silver and blue livery, the colours of the energy drink branding.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Antonio Pizzonia , Enrique Bernoldi , Luca Badoer , Mark Webber , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Ricardo Zonta , Marc Gene , Paul Stoddart , Bjorn Wirdheim , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Christian Klien , Geoff Willis
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi