Teams conclude Paul Ricard test


The final day of testing at Paul Ricard, was marred by a horrific crash involving McLaren's Alexander Wurz.

Towards the end of the morning session the Austrian crashed heavily into the barriers at the end of the Verrerie under braking for the Ste Baume corner. The session was immediately red-flagged, and though unhurt, the former Le Mans winner played no further part in the day's activities.

As a precaution, Wurz underwent a full check-up, including a number of X-Rays, before returning to his team.

"It was unfortunate that the programme ended early today, as we had been progressing well," said Wurz. "I am OK and feeling fine, and was just disappointed that due to the damage to the car, I was not able to carry on with the day's programme."

The damage to the barriers, not to mention the McLaren, meant that a different track configuration was used in the afternoon, effectively splitting the day into two different tests.

In the morning, the six teams on duty used the 2D SC tracks as they prepared for the forthcoming Monaco and Canada events, while they switched to the shorter 2E SC layout in the afternoon, keeping the 'A' chicane, which is identical to the chicane in Montreal, and the Petit Beausset corner.

Pedro de la Rosa, who was quickest in the morning session, managed only 61 laps in the afternoon, as the team investigated the cause of his teammate's crash.

BAR had Takuma Sato and Jenson Button on duty, the Brackley team having opted to sit out Thursday's session due to the fact that rain had been forecast.

Jenson continued the aerodynamic test programme re-evaluating some solutions from Wednesday, as well as further new configurations. He completed a total of 113 laps, despite losing running time with some gearbox issues and numerous red flags.

Takuma ran through tyre evaluations for the forthcoming races, however, his car suffered a hydraulic leak during the morning session, which cost him some running time.

"Despite less than ideal circuit configurations this week, we have completed all of our planned programme with promising results," said the team's chief test engineer, Mark Ellis. "Development solutions for both the European and Canadian Grands Prix have proved successful and we expect to return to racing competing at the front for wins."

Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis were in action for Toyota, both drivers concentrating on long runs as they evaluated tyres. The team can draw great satisfaction not merely from its pace, but also the lack of wear to its tyres, thereby prompting many to speculate that 2004 Monaco winner, Jarno Trulli, could repeat the feat next week.

Heikki Kovalainen and Franck Montagny continued for Renault, the Frenchman missing most of the afternoon session as a result of a 'technical problem'. Although the R25 has the pace, and the torque, for Monaco, there remains concern over tyre blistering.

David Coulthard was joined by Christian Klien, however the Red Bull drivers were both over 1.5s off the pace, in both the morning and afternoon sessions, both drivers encountering a number of technical problems.

Jacques Villeneuve 'enjoyed' his second day in the Sauber, however he was 3.1s off the pace in the morning, and his afternoon session ended early following a 'disagreement' with the kerbs.

"Until Wurz's accident we could run our planned programme, but as a result of this we all had to return to the short track layout which was a big disappointment for our team," admitted race engineer, Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "It completely mixed up our programme and we needed to find a compromise, but at the end of the day we managed to complete the test.

"Unfortunately Jacques ran wide at one point and hit hard a kerb of another track layout. This damaged the car too much to continue, so we were forced to finish earlier today.

"Although we missed some running I think the test this week was not too bad overall. We were able to make our Michelin tyre selection for Montreal and found a reasonable set-up. However, the car's performance still needs improvement."

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Published: 14/05/2005
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