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Wurz continues to set Valencia pace

NEWS STORY
02/02/2005

McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz continues to set the pace at Valencia, albeit in a 2004 car.

Thankfully, conditions were a little better today, with bright sunshine and temperatures reaching 15 degrees C.

Wurz, at the wheel of an MP4-19B, completed 131 laps coming within 0.026s of the best time posted this year (David Coulthard), but still almost a second off the unofficial lap record posted by Kimi Raikkonen last February. The Finn was also on duty today, driving the MP4-20, completing 57 laps with a best time of 1:10.718.

The Renault duo of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella looked remarkably strong, both at the wheel of R25s. Following yesterday's official presentation in Monte-Carlo, the French outfit was back at work less then 24-hours later.

The team concentrated on long-distance runs to evaluate tyre performance, while also pursuing continuing the pre-season set-up programmes aimed at understanding the car's response to set-up changes. Although both drivers experienced mechanical problems - Alnoso (engine), Fisichella (clutch) - which stopped them on circuit at different points during the day, they both gave positive feedback on the performance of the R25 and its response to the set-up programmes.

"Our main priority today was to complete long distance running to put mileage on both chassis," said chief test engineer, Christian Silk, "and although mechanical incidents perturbed our programme, we nevertheless completed over 100 laps with Fernando and 64 with Giancarlo. The first runs of chassis 03 have proceeded well, and the drivers and their engineering teams have made good progress in their exploration of set-ups with the R25, continuing where they left off last week."

With just over four weeks to go before the start of the 2005 Formula One World Championship season, Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld continued WilliamsF1's preparations.

In the morning both drivers focussed on set-ups, before switching to tyre evaluations in the afternoon. Mark concentrated on tyre constructions while Nick evaluated tyre compounds. Both drivers continue here tomorrow.

Takuma Sato was the quickest of four drivers on duty. The Japanese star was joined by Anthony Davidson, both at the wheels of 007s, while young hopefuls James Rossiter and African Alan van der Merwe, both part of the Brackley outfit's Young Driver Programme, were each given 2004 cars. Davidson completed the most laps (141).

Ralf Schumacher and Olivier Panis were both at the wheel of TF105s, the German being the cause of a number of red flags.

Rubens Barrichello, at the wheel of the F2004 M, could only manage tenth fastest today, while teammate Marc Gene finished twelfth. The Spaniard worked on a tyre and electronics testing programme, while Rubens concentrated on set-ups.

At the end of the day, Gene had covered 51 laps, while Barrichello managed 80. Tomorrow (Thursday), Michael Schumacher joins the Brazilian.

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