De la Rosa Leads the Way at Jerez - Day Three

Pedro de la Rosa finished at the top of the timesheets on the third day of testing at the Jerez circuit, where the teams working there were finally able to test in the dry as the Spanish weather improved following two days of heavy rain.

De la Rosa Leads the Way at Jerez - Day Three

Pedro de la Rosa finished at the top of the timesheets on the third day of testing at the Jerez circuit, where the teams working there were finally able to test in the dry as the Spanish weather improved following two days of heavy rain.

The Spaniard, at the wheel of the new McLaren MP4-19, outpaced his compatriot Fernando Alonso by around two tenths of a second. The Renault driver, who returned to work on Tuesday, had a better day and was able to complete 96 laps with his R23 car.

"At least today we could do some running," said Alonso. "I lost a bit of time in the morning but it felt good to drive after such a long time. Maybe we couldn't complete our planned programme because of the track conditions, but I'm definitely happier than yesterday."

The Williams team continued with their preparations for the 2004 season with Juan Pablo Montoya and Marc Gene working with the BMW-powered FW25. The Colombian was the fastest of the two after 72 laps, while Gene finished down in 10th with the second Williams.

"The circuit started off damp but was dry by the afternoon," said Williams' chief operations engineer Sam Michael. "Both cars completed some intermediate tyre testing in the morning for Michelin. Marc did long runs to test the reliability of the new engine and gearbox, while Juan spent the day doing tyre testing and set up work.

"Although the day was interrupted with quite a few red flags we had no mechanical problems all day, an encouraging sign at this early stage."

World Champions Ferrari had two drivers on track today after deciding not to run with the second F2003-GA on Tuesday. Both Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer took to the track, with the Brazilian finishing as sixth quickest while the Italian finished in fourth.

Jenson Button was the fastest of the two BAR-Honda cars on track, the Briton taking over from teammate Takuma Sato at the wheel of the new concept car. Button posted the fifth fastest time of the session.

Formula Nippon champion Satoshi Motoyama got behind the wheel of a Renault Formula One car for the first time today. Motoyama, who had made his F1 debut with the Jordan team in testing for the Japanese Grand Prix this year, was forced to wait until today following yesterday's poor track conditions.

The Japanese driver did a good job with the Renault, setting the 12th quickest time after 49 laps, 44 more than Renault's test driver Franck Montagny, who finished at the bottom of the times after completing just a handful of laps at the Spanish track.

Felipe Massa was again the only man in action for the Sauber team, who continued with their four-day programme with the Petronas-powered C22. Massa concentrated on a comparison of different damper modifications, the assessment of a new brake material and tyre testing.

The Brazilian, who will be replaced tomorrow by test driver Neel Jani, posted the 13th quickest time.

"Today we ran 85 laps with the new gearbox parts which is quite a good result," said Sauber's Jacky Eeckelaert, chief engineer. "We have also tested new brake materials. In the morning when the track was still a bit wet we decided to assess a new electronic system which also ran quite well. Later we worked with Bridgestone on a tyre programme.

"Unfortunately we experienced a hydraulic oil leak in the afternoon which forced us to stop for more than an hour. When we finally fixed it there was not enough time anymore to go out on the track. This was our bad luck of today, but overall I am still quite satisfied with what we have done today."

F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim was back in action with the BAR-Honda team, having tested for the Brackley-based squad at Mugello in October. The Swede was at the wheel of the 2003-spec 005 chassis, completing 89 laps on his way to the 14th fastest time of the day.

Testing will continue tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.681 66 2. Alonso Renault (M) 1:17.877 96 3. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) 1:18.048 72 4. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:18.519 76 5. Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:18.558 96 6. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:19.048 58 7. Webber Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:19.052 85 8. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:19.484 43 9. Panis Toyota (M) 1:19.546 49 10. Gene Williams-BMW (M) 1:19.634 103 11. Klien Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:19.818 87 12. Motoyama Renault (M) 1:19.992 49 13. Massa Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:21.154 85 14. Wirdheim BAR-Honda (M) 1:21.312 79 15. da Matta Toyota (M) 1:21.496 27 16. Montagny Renault (M) 1:28.796 5 All Timing Unofficial

Visit Atlas F1's Testing Center for further information

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