de la Rosa quickest at Paul Ricard


McLaren's Pedro do la Rosa continued his run of good form by topping the timesheets at Paul Ricard today.

Although slightly cloudy, conditions were generally good, with temperatures reaching 22 degrees C, and though there was a light wind there was no sign of the dreaded Mistral.

The Spaniard was joined by teammate Alexander Wurz, both drivers fully aware that Juan Pablo Montoya may not be fit in time for next week's race at Imola, following his recent tennis injury. Despite the good pace of the Woking cars - Wurz was eighth quickest 0.87s off the pace - they suffered a number of electrical problems.

The focus of today's programme was on Michelin tyre testing for the forthcoming San Marino Grand Prix. Both drivers were working on similar programmes completing a number of short and long runs throughout the day.

"Today was my second test in MP4-20 and I am still familiarising myself with the car," said the Austrian. "This is something the team and I will continue to work on over the next couple of days."

"Today was a trouble free day," added the Spaniard, "and I completed over twice a grand prix distance which myself and the team were particularly pleased with."

Second quickest was Melbourne winner, Giancarlo Fisichella, who was joined by Franck Montagny, as the team carried out set-up programmes as well as long-term research and development work.

Both drivers completed high mileage, Fisichella without any problems while Montagny's day was cut short by a mechanical issue.

"Giancarlo was running at this circuit for the first time today," said Christian Silk, "so we spent the morning improving the car set-up and giving him time to get use to the track. Visually, it looks very different from the driving seat, with the run-off areas and types of kerb, so it can take drivers a little longer to acclimatise than at a more standard venue.

"Fisi completed a very good day's running overall and after the problems he experienced in Barcelona, it was good for him to run without any incidents. He worked on car set-up all day, for Imola and beyond, and was confident with the results.

"Franck concentrated on longer term R&D work, combined with a small amount of set-up development and tyre testing. His day was cut slightly short with a mechanical problem, but we will continue our programmes with tyre development for Imola tomorrow."

Toyota had its two regular testers, Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta on duty, as the Japanese outfit attempts to build on its good showings in Malaysia and Bahrain.

The Brazilian spent his time working with a new suspension, clearly looking ahead to the infamous Imola kerbs, which in the past have shown up the inherent weakness of the Toyota chassis'. Olivier was the quicker of the two, while Ricardo was responsible for one of several red flags periods during the course of the day.

Enrique Bernoldi and Takuma Sato were on duty for BAR, the Japanese driver running the new aerodynamic updates that the Brackley team introduced at Barcelona last week. That said, the Brazilian, who spent much of the day focussing on tyre evaluation, was the quicker of the two.

Nick Heidfeld was joined by Antonio Pizzonia as WillaimsF1 began its preparations for the start of the European season. Nick spent the morning working on set-ups before switching to tyre testing for Imola in the afternoon. Antonio spent the day concentrating on aerodynamic and mechanical set-up.

Unfortunately, both drivers suffered mechanical problems during the course of the day, both understood to be gearbox related.

Propping up the timesheets was Narain Karthikeyan as Jordan began its first test since the season began. The Indian finished almost 4s off the pace at a time when there a reports that the Silverstone based outfit could be looking to make serious modifications to its car, wary of losing ground to the new Minardi which will make its race debut next week.

The Italian car will be powered by the same CR6 engine that has proved so successful in the Red Bull.

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Published: 13/04/2005
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