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Schumacher sets scintillating pace at Jerez

NEWS STORY
11/10/2006

Though he might have given up on the Drivers' Championship, Michael Schumacher has clearly lost none of his pace, the German posting the fastest time of the year at Jerez today.

The German, who wasn't originally scheduled to take part in this week's Spanish test, but changed his plans in order to assist the team's preparations for the season finale, and the hope of claiming the Constructors' Championship, posted a best time over a second quicker than the second fastest man, Ferrari test driver, Luca Badoer.

While Schumacher concentrated on evaluating Bridgestone tyres for the final round of the 2006 season, Badoer, worked on development of new components aimed at next season.

Third quickest, 1.34s off Schumacher's pace, was Robert Kubica in the BMW. The Pole had a busy day jumping between two cars. He set his fastest time in the morning in chassis 07, the programme for this car was mainly to test small detail parts for next year.

Meanwhile, the work on chassis 06 included different tyres and transmission development. On top of these programmes the team also completed some set-up and aero work.

Tomorrow, Kubica will use both chassis to carry out work next week's Grand Prix.

Having carried out a shakedown on Tuesday, today was the first day of testing proper for McLaren, which had Pedro de la Rosa and Lewis Hamilton on duty.

The Woking outfit focussed on set-up work and final tyre evaluation for Brazil. In addition to this, both drivers continued the team's ongoing development programme for 2007. de la Rosa was fourth quickest overall, with the English youngster finishing sixth, 0.4s off the Spaniard's pace.

Toyota had Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis on duty, the duo completing a combined 200 laps.

"The driver's programmes were quite straightforward," said test team manager, Gerd Pfeiffer. "Ricardo worked on tyre comparisons, while Olivier spent the day collecting data that the engineers in the factory needed to analyze various items on the car. Overall, the cars worked well and we made it through the day and both programmes nicely. Tomorrow we will continue the tyre programme on both cars to make the choice for Brazil."

"Today's running was really positive," added Zonta. "We got a lot of laps in and were able to cover a lot of tyre test items. It is hard to say that the track here is comparable to that in Sao Paolo, especially because the circuit there has changed so much and the weather is unpredictable. But you can say that the traction is similar. Today I believe the track conditions here changed greatly between the morning and afternoon sessions. If we would have put new tyres on the car in the morning, I feel that we could have had a better lap time. Tomorrow we will continue this testing to see how the track and the tyres behave before we make a final decision."

"Quite honestly, today was an ordinary day for me," admitted Panis, who retires from F1 at the end of the season. "I spent the whole day collecting data and doing comparisons in order for the team to be able to analyze data they needed for the race strategy. The track conditions were okay, the car ran well and I look forward to working on the Brazil tyre programme tomorrow."

Alexander Wurz and Narain Karthikeyan continued testing the WilliamsF1-Toyota, both drivers enjoying a trouble-free day, even if they were off the pace.

"Narain carried out some engine tests for Toyota in the morning as well as completing an aero test on some new parts and brake work in the afternoon," said Mike Condliffe. "Alex also worked on brake tests and then traction control development. Both drivers completed their planned tyre testing in the afternoon to round off a successful day."

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