With just under a week to go before WilliamsF1 unveils its 2005 contender, and reveals the identity of its second race driver, Antonio Pizzonia couldn't have picked a better time to pick up his pace.
Despite bright sunshine and blue skies, conditions at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valencia Ricardo Tormo were extremely chilly today, with the air temperature never getting above 7 degrees C. High winds also hampered the session.
However, that didn't slow the Brazilian, who outpaced his rival for the race seat by 0.943s. Both drivers spent the day concentrating on set-ups
"We haven't tested at Valencia for just under a year," said test team manager, Tim Newton, "so we spent much of the session re-discovering the circuit and working on set-ups.
"Progress was also hampered by inclement weather conditions, with strong winds making it hard for us to achieve any consistent running. Hopefully we'll have better conditions tomorrow when Antonio and Nick will resume testing."
Second quickest was Christian Klien, who was joined by Red Bull Racing race driver David Coulthard. Although the Austrian had a trouble-free day, the Scot suffered a couple of mechanical problems and stopped out on track.
The programme with the new car concentrated on an initial shakedown and solving new-car reliability faults, which saw the car make two precautionary stops out on track. The cold and windy conditions made it difficult to evaluate the handling at this stage, but the first conclusions were positive and the team hopes to complete more mileage tomorrow.
After his first laps in the car, Fernando Alonso commented: "I have a good first impression of the car, in spite of the delays on the first day. The engine is powerful and pulls strongly from low revs, while inside the car, the driving position is comfortable. We did not do enough running to have a firm idea of the handling, and our aim for tomorrow will be to complete more laps in order to start learning about the car."
Technical Director Bob Bell continued: "First of all, I would like to congratulate the teams at Enstone and Viry on their work. It is always a privilege to see the new car run for the first time, and this morning was no exception when the R25 took to the track for the first time. Today was about resolving new-car reliability issues, which saw us stop the car out on track twice. However, the initial signs were promising and we expect to begin more substantial running tomorrow."
At the wheel of the R24, Giancarlo Fisichella completed 35 laps working on tyre development. Unfortunately however, the unstable windy conditions and low temperatures prevented him from completing any useful work.
BAR had two drivers on duty, Takuma Sato and test driver Anthony Davidson. The Japanese driver, enjoying his first full day in the 2005 car, posted the fourth fastest time of the day, in addition to completing the most laps (78).
Unfortunately, the Honda power-plant suffered another failure - the third in a a week - this time it was Anthony Davidson, running the 2004 'concept car', who fell victim.
Toyota had Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis on duty, the Brazilian outpacing the Frenchman by 0.6s