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Raikkonen quickest at Paul Ricard

NEWS STORY
11/05/2005

Barcelona winner Kimi Raikkonen was the quickest driver at Paul Ricard today, as a three-day test at the French circuit got underway.

The Finn was partnered by San Marino hero Alexander Wurz, as preparations for Monaco got underway, using Paul Ricard's 2D (2.232 mile) layout.

Kimi's programme focused on Michelin tyre work for next week's race, testing the prime and option tyre. He completed short runs in the morning and three long runs in the afternoon, using the latest-spec Mercedes V10.

Alex, using an older-spec engine, worked on set-ups, focusing on front and rear suspension work. The Austrian had a couple of minor interruptions in the morning, but ran without any problems in the afternoon. That said, he was the slowest runner today, over 1.6s off the pace.

Second quickest was Ricardo Zonta, who was partnered by Olivier Panis. The Brazilian, who focussed on electronics testing, posted a best time 0.5s slower than Raikkonen.

Renault had Franck Montagny and Heikki Kovalainen on duty. Both drivers conducted performance and endurance tyre testing, evaluating new chassis developments and completing set-up programmes for the unique characteristics of the Principality street circuit.

"We had a very successful first day of testing, breaking our own single-day mileage record with more than 750 km run on Heikki's car," said chief test engineer, Christian Silk. "Both drivers were very happy with the car in its Monaco configuration, and we got encouraging results on the tyres, as well as the set-up adaptations required for the bumpy street surface and the new parts on the car.

"We didn't experience any major problems during the day, and will continue on the same path tomorrow. The rain held off today, and we hope that will remain the case in the coming days, although we may be forced to adapt our schedule according to the forecasts."

Red Bull, which is believed to have secured a one-off sponsorship deal with the makers of the Star Wars movie for Monaco, had David Coulthard and Tonio Liuzzi in action.

Although it will not be participating at Monaco, BAR is attending this week's test, with Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi present for the Brackley team.

The team was running new aerodynamic components originally scheduled for Barcelona, but which will now be introduced at the Nurburgring later this month.

Sauber had Felipe Massa on duty, with Jacques Villeneuve scheduled to drive the car tomorrow.

"Although the track was a bit damp in the morning we were able to complete our programme as scheduled and without technical problems," said race engineer, Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "We mainly focused on the evaluation of new aerodynamic parts and worked with Michelin on the tyre side for the Monaco Grand Prix next week. Overall, the day was quite good and productive.

"Tomorrow Jacques will take over the driving and therefore we have planned to run a data validation of the aerodynamic and Michelin tyre tests which we did today. In addition, this week we will conduct a medium downforce and Michelin tyre programme in preparation for the races in Montreal and Indianapolis in June."

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