Davidson tops Paul Ricard timesheets


Under-fire BAR-Honda was given a much needed boost today as Anthony Davidson topped the timesheets on the first day of testing at Paul Ricard HTTT.

Just three days after retiring from his third ever Grand Prix the Englishman lapped the French track's shortest layout (2.37 miles / 3.81 km) in 64.176 seconds.

The team will be much inspired by the fact that the Englishman, and fellow tester Enrique Bernoldi, completed a total of 343 laps without any major problems.

In the morning session, Anthony ran through some early set-up work to find a good balance before completing an aerodynamic evaluation for a total of 81 laps. Enrique also completed early set-up runs before moving onto a tyre evaluation, running through options for the forthcoming races. He completed 96 laps in the morning session.

Anthony continued with his aerodynamic evaluation programme in the afternoon, while Enrique also continued his tyre evaluation from the morning, concentrating on longer runs.

While BAR experienced a nightmare weekend in Malaysia, Toyota celebrated it first podium, and today Ricardo Zonta signalled that the Japanese outfit's performance was no 'flash in the pan', as he posted a time just 0.037s shy of Davidson's best effort.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for the Cologne-based outfit, as both the Brazilian and teammate Olivier Panis suffered technical problems that caused the session to be red-flagged. For Zonta it was an electrical problem, while the Frenchman encountered a gearbox failure.

McLaren testers Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz were third and fourth quickest, as the Woking outfit opted to begin its test a day early.

The Austrian concentrated on finalising the Michelin tyres the team will use at the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, while his Spanish teammate concentrated on tyre testing for the San Marino Grand Prix. Both drivers, at the wheels of MP4-19Bs, completed their planned programmes without any problems.

Renault ran with two R25 chassis, today marking Heikki Kovalainen's first run in the 2005 car.

Work focused primarily on reliability running, and tyre testing for the Bahrain Grand Prix, looking at performance and endurance development of the Michelin tyres for the forthcoming race.

"Our programme today was about doing as much mileage as possible," said Christian Silk. "We have two 2005 chassis available to the test team extremely early, and we will endeavour to make the most of that situation.

"Heikki did a good job on his first run in the car, while Franck continued to get a feel for its performance after his first test in Jerez a fortnight ago. We got positive results from our programmes, and confirmed our tyre results ahead of Bahrain. Tomorrow, the drivers will have the opportunity to concentrate on set-up work and begin exploring the car's performance."

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Published: 23/03/2005
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