Zonta ends Paul Ricard test on top
|Friday, April 7th 2006, 16:20 GMT|
Ricardo Zonta proved that Toyota were getting on top of their tyre issues when he topped the final day of testing at Paul Ricard in France on Friday.
The Brazilian, running new aerodynamic updates, edged out Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella as he and teammate Olivier Panis spent the day focusing on long runs with the new Bridgestone compounds for Imola.
Zonta's best time came right at the end of the day as he put in a string of quick laps that indicate that Toyota have found something to unlock the full potential of the TF106.
The runs also gave the team more confidence with the new cold weather Bridgestones that Ralf Schumacher had put to such good use in Melbourne, with some members of the engineering staff having been a little sceptical about the tyres in Australia.
Toyota's day was overseen by Pascal Vasselon, the man who is expected to take over technical leadership at the team following the departure earlier this week of technical director Mike Gascoyne. The Frenchman declined to comment about the recent goings on at the team or their future plans, however.
Fisichella was Renault's only runner on Friday as the team had been unable to repair the damage on Heikki Kovalainen's car that had been caused when he ran over a kerb on Thursday.
Pedro de la Rosa was third quickest in the McLaren as he put more valuable mileage on the latest specification Mercedes-Benz engine. Having used the same power-unit since the first day of the test, it finally expired at 4.45pm on Friday.
The Spaniard told autosport.com: "It has been a good test. We checked the aero settings for Imola and we now have one candidate each for the Imola specification prime and option tyres. Clearly we have to verify that in Imola but it looks good.
"We have the speed and reliability and we really have to put the pressure on Renault as no-one is doing it at the moment. Let's see what happens."
McLaren's other driver Gary Paffett spent the day focusing on Nurburgring specification tyres in the MP4-20.
Robert Kubica set the fifth fastest time during a qualifying-simulation run in the afternoon, while Nick Heidfeld was sixth quickest after stopping out on the track at 4.10pm.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:04.157 156 2. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:04.258 160 3. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:04.591 120 4. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:04.899 163 5. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:04.944 107 6. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:05.673 92 7. Panis Toyota (B) 1:06.741 60 All Timing Unofficial