Teams test at Silverstone, Jerez amid off-track action

Jerez testing was relatively quiet compared to the action at Silverstone. Ferrari was the fastest per each of the three days, the only difference was a change in the final day driver. Rubens Barrichello, recent winner of the Italian GP, ran the...

Jerez testing was relatively quiet compared to the action at Silverstone. Ferrari was the fastest per each of the three days, the only difference was a change in the final day driver. Rubens Barrichello, recent winner of the Italian GP, ran the test programme on Tuesday and Wednesday before handling the Ferrari over to world champion Michael Schumacher.

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Sauber, who had just announced the signing of former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, fitted the 2004 F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi into the C23 for his first test in a Formula One car. Felipe Massa did the first two days for the Swiss team.

"It was a great day for me and I feel very happy. Driving a Formula One car doesn't happen every day," said Liuzzi. "I felt really good in the team. It was important for me to do this test, to understand how this team works and to run as many kilometers in a Formula One car as possible."

Sauber Technical Director Willy Rampf and the team engineers were pleased with the young novice, "Vitantonio coped with the driving and the different set-up possibilities astonishingly soon. His work and feedback concerning the car handling were pretty good and useful for the engineers."

Over in England, Silverstone had a variety of variables over the three-day test; some could be considered fireworks, while others were expected.

Expected was the return to the cockpit for Ralf Schumacher, his first time in the Williams F1 since his accident 12 weeks ago at the US GP. The German took to the track like he had never left, setting the fastest time on the first day. Marc Gene, the team's test driver also was present at Silverstone.

"I'm very happy with the progress we made over the past three days," expressed Schumacher. "I must say the car is much better now than when I last drove it, it is much easier to drive, especially with regards to downforce. I'm now really looking forward to the next three races and giving the team my very best."

Schumacher will leave Williams at the end of the year, he will be in Toyota colours next season.

Toyota made news when they announced that the talks with Jarno Trulli had reached an agreement. Trulli will teammate with Ralf Schumacher in 2005. However, since Renault released Trulli early, he might be named to pilot a Toyota in the final three races this year.

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Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta did the first two days of testing for Toyota, they turned the TF104B teams cars over to Trulli and Ryan Briscoe on Thursday.

"We've already started to work well together in our first day of testing," commented Trulli at the end of his test day. "It's also nice to be working again with Mike Gascoyne, who is an excellent engineer. It's still too early to judge the car. I've found some very good, positive aspects to the package, while there are parts which can still be improved. But I think everyone in the team knows the problems which require work."

On Wednesday, among all the focus on Villeneuve, Kimi Raikkonen quietly placed the McLaren fastest on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. And Villeneuve? He simply got accustomed to being behind the wheel, this time in a Renault.

After a long break of nearly 12 months, the French-Canadian driver was back in the cockpit of a Formula One car. Villeneuve had been asked to test the Renault with the possibility of running the final races, starting with eh Chinese Grand Prix.

During the second day of testing, Sauber and Villeneuve announced their agreement. The next day, his second day in the Renault F1 car, Villeneuve proved he had not lost his touch when he finished third fastest on the final day of testing.

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At this time, the former world champion awaits Renault's decision. Renault should make their announcement on Friday on whether they will go with the experience of Villeneuve or their test driver Franck Montagny.

"On Wednesday, it was a little difficult in testing," said Villeneuve. "I had a bad position in the car and I was braking a little late. Today there were a lot of adjustments. The team was great and in the afternoon I was able to attack. I have spent a stress-free year, no political pressures and I feel like a new man."

B.A.R. Honda Takuma Sato driver was fastest Thursday followed by Wednesday fastest driver, Raikkonen. Ralf Schumacher who was fastest on Tuesday clocked out fourth fast the final day.

The F1 teams are back in action September 24 - 26 in China for the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Olivier Panis , Kimi Raikkonen , Ricardo Zonta , Franck Montagny , Marc Gene , Felipe Massa , Ryan Briscoe , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Mike Gascoyne
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams