Schumacher fastest on Jerez day three

There were once again 13 drivers on track at Jerez de la Frontera on December 15th and Michael Schumacher made his mark on his return to work. The former champion topped the times with a best of 1:18.958 and teammate Felipe Massa made it a Ferrari...

There were once again 13 drivers on track at Jerez de la Frontera on December 15th and Michael Schumacher made his mark on his return to work. The former champion topped the times with a best of 1:18.958 and teammate Felipe Massa made it a Ferrari one-two with second quickest, a tenth behind the German.

Massa continued with tyres, using the V10 engine, while Schumacher, who had an early visit to the gravel in the damp conditions, focused on the V8 engine in the F2004M chassis. "I feel a much lower level of power, but this sensation is nice," Michael told reporters. "It is interesting and the sound is totally different."

The two Ferraris were followed by two Renaults, test drivers Franck Montagny and Heikki Kovalainen third and fourth fastest respectively. Set up and tyres were the focus of their work. "The car continues to look competitive in simulated V8 configuration, and we made good progress with our tyre development," said chief test engineer Christian Silk.

Test driver Anthony Davidson was the lead Honda in fifth and the team again had young driver programme pilot Adam Carroll on track, eighth overall. Both used the V8 engine in the '06 Concept car and worked on chassis set up, aerodynamics and tyre evaluation.

Toyota tester Ricardo Zonta was sixth fastest and fellow test driver Olivier Panis was ninth to wrap up the team's testing for 2005. Over the three days the work focused on aerodynamic set up of the TF106, tyre work and collection of data for the V8 engine.

"Overall I think we can be happy with the test," said chief race engineer Dieter Gass. "We now understand more about the tyres and we have proved that the development of the car is at a good stage. We had some small mechanical problems throughout but nothing to worry about and nothing unusual."

McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya and tester Pedro de la Rosa were seventh and tenth respectively. The pair concluded McLaren's test year with work on the Mercedes V8 engine and tyre development. "During the pre-Christmas tests, we have been working on various engine, tyre and software development programmes and have got some good feedback overall," said Montoya.

"The last couple of days of testing this week have not always seen smooth running, however as we didn't go out until mid-morning yesterday because of the cold weather, there were also a lot of red flag stoppages. I had a small problem with the software on my MP4-20B, and then the issue today with the engine."

In the Cosworth V8-powered Williams, Nico Rosberg was 11th on the time sheet and teammate Mark Webber rounded off the times in 13th. Nick Heidfeld concluded BMW Sauber's test schedule for the year with 12th quickest. The German worked on cooling and V8 engine checks and had started on a tyre programme when an exhaust problem halted his running.

Meanwhile, at Silverstone in the UK, Red Bull's Ferrari V8-powered RB2 took to the track for the first time. With David Coulthard behind the wheel the new car was put through a series of system checks, although the number of laps and times recorded was not disclosed. The team will continue at the circuit on Friday.

"Testing the new car today was momentous, as it represents something completely new for the team," said Coulthard. "In terms of driving experience, the car performed as expected on track and I'm looking forward to putting it through its paces tomorrow and throughout next year to see what it can do."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams