Button Breaks Barcelona Record

Briton Jenson Button set a stunning pace on the third day of testing at the Barcelona circuit, breaking the unofficial track record

Button Breaks Barcelona Record

The BAR-Honda driver lapped the Spanish track in 1:13.552, over two tenths quicker than the previous benchmark, set by his teammate Takuma Sato last year.

Button had a successful aerodynamics test today, putting in the quickest lap of the day in a car which the team claim is now almost at the package they will race in Imola.

Button, along with BAR teammate Takuma Sato, were continuing to concentrate on developing the aero package ahead of the start of the European season. Test driver Enrique Bernoldi was also given a run, but this was in Sato's car after the Japanese driver had finished his programme at 4pm.

Technical director Geoff Willis finally had some good news for the team after a string of poor performances in the opening races: "We have had a very successful two day on the aero package with Jenson, which we really started two or three tests ago.

"We've been collating data, and I think three quarters of the package is there now; the remainder should come in Paul Ricard, and we will have it all there for Jenson and Takuma to test.

"We are on the legal weight here and have managed to concentrate on the aero, and it seems to be working finally. This is the first time we've come to the Barcelona circuit for a while, and it seems to have changed its characteristics - the tyres are very consistent here, and it is easy to do aero tests now."

The team were also utilising a new brake material from Brembo, which is noted to stand up to far heavier treatment under braking. Imola is hard on brakes, and after the team's performance in this respect at Bahrain they needed to improve.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a hairy moment in the afternoon when a tyre deflated and exploded after turn two, propelling him across the following high speed right hander and luridly into the wall.

The impact speed was measured at 255km/h, and the damage to the rear of the Renault bore this out. Fisichella was very shaken afterwards but otherwise fine, while teammate Fernando Alonso suffered an engine blow at 1:00pm but was back on track at 4:00.

The only other incidents of the day were Ricardo Zonta stopping on track with a clutch problem and David Coulthard having a small off-track excursion late in the day.

Felipe Massa was back on track after replacing Jacques Villeneuve, who was seen to be bickering constantly with his engineers before getting into his motorhome and leaving the circuit last night.

After setting the car up the Brazilian mostly concentrated on the team's aero package, which is not complete at the rear of the car at present. The team ignored laptimes as they focused on the rear wing and diffuser packages.

Rubens Barrichello was working on the new tyres in the F2005, with Luca Badoer supporting him in the F2004M; Bridgestone had a new construction and casing at the test, and afterwards mentioned that the casing would probably be used in Imola, while they will consider the construction after a further test at Mugello.

Otherwise most of the race drivers were working on perfecting their Barcelona set-up ahead of the race there. The only exception was Mark Webber, who was due to test all day but gave up his car to tester Antonio Pizzonia due to pain from bruising dating back to his cracked rib.

Rumours at the Spanish track suggested Zonta was testing a damper and suspension package designed by new recruit Pascal Vasselon, despite the fact that the Frenchman has been working for Toyota for a mere five days.

The team were unable to test their new aero package as expected, which was simply due to the fact that the parts were not yet ready.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:13.552 139 2. Trulli Toyota (M) 1:14.231 111 3. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:14.247 122 4. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:14.391 102 5. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:14.645 116 6. Alonso Renault (M) 1:14.670 129 7. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:14.761 127 8. Zonta Toyota (M) 1:14.826 144 9. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:14.929 76 10. Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 1:14.932 95 11. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:14.957 87 12. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:15.018 67 13. Pizzonia Williams-BMW (M) 1:15.141 56 14. Webber Williams-BMW (M) 1:16.050 51 15. Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:16.942 83 16. Bernoldi BAR-Honda (M) 1:17.243 18 All Timing Unofficial 
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