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WilliamsF1 continues to set the pace at Jerez

NEWS STORY
12/01/2005

Conditions at Jerez de la Frontera, for the third day of testing, were cooler than on the two previous days, with temperatures reaching no more than 15 degrees C. However there was bright sunshine, and little wind, throughout the day.

After two days of testing, Nick Heidfeld, took a well-earned break, as Antonio Pizzonia got to work for the first time this year.

However, it was teammate Mark Webber who set the pace, as the Australian continued with tyre evaluations for Michelin. Antonio focussed on set-ups, the Brazilian completing 63 laps and finishing 1.1s off his teammate's pace.

However, this was explained by test team manager, Tim Newton: "Unfortunately, we experienced a number of technical problems which prohibited Antonio from running at full pace." he revealed.

Tomorrow (Thursday), Antonio is joined by Heidfeld, as the two drivers who are in competition for the second race seat, go head-to-head for the first time this year.

Hot on the heels of Webber, was the McLaren duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz, as the Woking outfit kick-started its 2005 campaign. Both drivers were at the wheel of MP4-19Bs, completing 188 laps between them.

Busiest man today was Renault tester Franck Montagny, who completed 135 laps. The Frenchman is the team's sole tester this week. His prime focus for the day was on tyre testing, completing longer runs on promising compounds from yesterday's performance evaluations. This programme will continue tomorrow, with extended runs on a smaller selection of tyres.

Franck also completed a short software development programme.

"Franck completed almost two race distances during a trouble-free day of testing," said chief test engineer, Christian Silk. "Our results from the longer distance tyre runs are promising, and we will complete our tyre testing tomorrow."

Jenson Button began his 2005 preparations for BAR, posting the fifth fastest time of the day. The Englishman, driving the 2005 'concept car', completed 93 laps, finishing 1.06s off the pace, while teammate Anthony Davidson completed 124 laps, with a best time 1.2s off the pace.

However, it wasn't plain sailing for Button, who encountered a clutch problem, which in turn affected his car's traction control. Meanwhile, Takuma Sato has an injury problem which meant that Davidson had to remain on duty for an extra day.

Ralf Schumacher continued with the new Toyota, the German completing 69 laps, but unable to get within 1.7s of Webber's pace.

Ferrari's day ended earlier than anticipated after Marc Gene crashed out. The Spaniard went off twice at the Curva Angel Nieto, causing sustained damage on the second occasion.

Marc was unhurt, but the team will need to work through the night to get the car back on track for tomorrow's session.

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