Sato fastest at Paul Ricard

Sato fastest at Paul Ricard

BAR took over the top of the times at Paul Ricard on Thursday, with Takuma Sato fastest and Jenson Button not far behind in second. Sato's best time of the day was 1:02.839, a new lap record, and Button was two and a half tenths down. Like some ...

BAR took over the top of the times at Paul Ricard on Thursday, with Takuma Sato fastest and Jenson Button not far behind in second. Sato's best time of the day was 1:02.839, a new lap record, and Button was two and a half tenths down. Like some other teams, BAR decided to finish today and save a test day.

Takuma Sato.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"We have continued the excellent progress made last week in Barcelona with further performance improvements this week," said chief test engineer Mark Ellis. "The excellent reliability of the car has enabled us to complete our whole test programme in only two days this week."

Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia was third quickest but Nick Heidfeld was at the bottom of the list in 11th. Heidfeld reportedly suffered from back pains after a few laps and was sent home to recover before next weekend's race at Imola.

It was the end of Williams' two-day test. "This week at the Paul Ricard circuit, the main focus of the test was on the tyre compound choice for Imola," said technical director Sam Michael.

"Antonio and Nick drove on both days to work through the test programme. The programme also included set-up work, traction control, brake cooling, continued mileage on the engine and evaluation of some new aero parts."

Toyota opted to end its work a day early, as rain is forecast for tomorrow. Testers Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta concluded the team's week with fourth and sixth on the time sheet. Tyres and set up were the focus for the pair over the last two days.

"I did some work on set-up and dampers and we tried out some different levels of downforce but most of my time was spent working on Michelin tyres for next week's San Marino Grand Prix," said Panis.

Ginacarlo Fisichella was the quicker of the two Renaults in fifth, while team test driver Franck Montagny was ninth. Like Toyota, tyres were the main work and the team also decided to finish today in light of the predicted weather.

The McLaren test duo of Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa were seventh and eighth fastest respectively. Wurz worked on set up and tyres but de la Rosa had mechanical problems which lost him time in the afternoon. He made it back out on track later but then suffered an engine failure.

Narain Karthikeyan was once again the only Jordan present, 10th overall. Ferrari continued on two tracks with Michael Schumacher at Fiorano and Rubens Barrichello at Mugello. Tyres, set up and aerodynamics were the focus -- Schumacher's best was 57.651 and Barrichello's 1:21.203.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Pedro de la Rosa , Antonio Pizzonia , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Olivier Panis , Nick Heidfeld , Ricardo Zonta , Franck Montagny , Alexander Wurz , Narain Karthikeyan
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan