Barcelona 2: Fisi sizzles

Giancarlo Fisichella claimed the top spot on the lap sheets in Barcelona today, taking half a second off teammate Fernando Alonso's record time from yesterday. The ever-improving times are making last year's statements about slowing down the cars look positively foolish.

Barcelona 2: Fisi sizzles

The resurfacing of the track has certainly played its part, with many team members comparing it to Magny Cours. Whereas the Barcelona surface used to be abrasive, requiring the hardest compound of tyre available, it is now smooth, easy on tyres, and constantly quicker.

Fisichella's best time, in fact, was achieved on the 19th of a 20 lap run, an achievement unheard of previously in Spain. Jarno Trulli acknowledged this was the case for everyone, stating: "No one seemed capable of setting the quickest time on the first lap with new tyres, as we do everywhere else, but we all seemed to go quicker with used tyres, which is very unusual."

Mark Webber, on the other hand, complained of a constant lack of grip despite spending the day testing various tyre compounds; his team seems to be struggling to get the best out of their Michelin tyres, no matter what surface they run on.

With Kimi Raikkonen back home in Finland following his big accident yesterday, his testing duties were taken over by Pedro de la Rosa, although McLaren weren't able to get him a car to drive until the afternoon. Restricted to an afternoon only run as well was Jordan's Tiago Monteiro, who had to wait for the team to construct a 2005 car for him.

With most teams again testing tyres and engines, consistency was the key. David Coulthard ran his laps in blocks of 20, each lap following the other in the mid to high 1m17s. As ever, Michael Schumacher drove metronomically - after a six-lap stint in the morning to put in a quick time while conditions were ideal, he then sat out until the afternoon, running a full race distance with almost every lap right on the 1m17 mark.

There were, however, a lot of worried faces in the Ferrari camp, with the general suggestion being that Bridgestone has under-estimated Michelin's resilience after last year's mauling. It was felt by many present that the surprisingly high lap times from the Italian team were genuine, although as ever it is difficult to know this with any degree of certainty.

Rubens Barrichello, far from his usual chipper self, told autosport.com: "We've still got lots of tyre work to do, and although at the moment Renault and McLaren look very strong it is too early to say.

"We do not have the final specifications [of both tyres and car] so we can not judge where we are, but I can say we've got a lot of work to do."



Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m14.408s, 87 laps
Ricardo Zonta (Toyota*), 1m14.502s, 91 laps
Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m14.552s, 75 laps
Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1m15.199s, 119 laps
David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing), 1m15.372s, 116 laps
Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing), 1m15.673s, 80 laps
Mark Webber (Williams), 1m15.841s, 70 laps
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1m15.912s, 116 laps
Jarno Trulli (Toyota), 1m16.043s, 122 laps
Nick Heidfeld (Williams), 1m16.077s, 94 laps
Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren), 1m16.113s, 63 laps
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m16.118s, 76 laps
Narain Karthikeyan (Jordan), 1m19.179s, 76 laps
Tiago Monteiro (Jordan), 1m19.718s, 32 laps

* denotes 2004 car

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