Barcelona test, day 1: Ferrari in front

Probably the most important test of the year kicked off at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona today (Tuesday), in 33 degree (Celsius) temperatures with high humidity. Luca Badoer went quickest in the Ferrari with the Williams driven by Marc Gene in second. Both drivers completed 106 gruelling laps and worked their way through a mountain of tyres

Barcelona test, day 1: Ferrari in front

With the summer testing ban imminent, tyre testing in preparation for the next three races was the main item on the agenda for the seven drivers present, although Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen - who ran an impressive third quickest - concentrated on aero work. The Sauber also had some new front suspension components, being used for just the second time.

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta worked on set-up refinements and managed to keep ahead of the McLaren MP4-18A on the timesheets. The new car, driven by Pedro de la Rosa, was a whisker over 2.0s off the pace and still showing signs of a difficult birth. Alex Wurz did seven laps in the 3rd one built so far but did not set a time.

"It was just a shakedown," said Pedro. "It was my first time in the '18' and it definitely feels different."

New boy Marko Asmer from Estonia had his second go in a FW25, after his debut at a straightline test for Williams earlier in the year. The eighteen-year-old posted the slowest of the timed laps but managed a tiring 99 tours with seemingly little effort.

"Before the test I thought I wouldn't sleep," he told autosport.com, " but I slept very well. It was good, no problems physically, but then I trained especially for today. I was forced to run with the rev limiter on for all but three of my laps, and it's the first time I've been out with soft tyres, which was really nice."

Ferrari will run with Barrichello tomorrow, or possibly open the second garage and use two cars. Michael Schumacher will complete his testing in Italy. Nick Heidfeld is expected to replace HHF at Sauber while Olivier Panis is due to take over from da Matta, at Toyota, later in the week.

New arrivals tomorrow will be Renault, Jaguar, BAR and Jordan.


L Badoer Ferrari B 1m18.179s 106
M Gene Williams-BMW M 1m18.557s
H-H Frentzen Sauber-Petronas B 1m18.771s
C da Matta Toyota B 1m19.476s 79
P de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1m20.291s 42*
M Asmer Williams-BMW M 1m20.291s 99
A Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (no time set) 7*

* MP4-18A
B = Bridgestone
M = Michelin

With Badoer testing in Barcelona, it was left to Felipe Massa to get the ball rolling for Ferrari at Mugello, in Italy. The Brazilian concentrated aerodynamics and new mechanical components, completing 81 laps with a quickest time of 1m24.461s.

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