Gene leads Benettons at Barcelona...

Marc Gene headed the times at a hot and sunny Barcelona on Tuesday, the Williams-BMW test driver outpacing the Benetton-Renaults of Mark Webber and Jenson Button on the opening day of running at the Catalunyan circuit

Gene leads Benettons at Barcelona...

In temperatures approaching 30-degrees, Gene set the pace around his home Grand Prix venue, as regular BMW-Williams drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya took a break from driving duties. He was three-tenths quicker than Webber, with Button a further 0.4secs slower.

"The day was okay even though we did not complete all the running we had planned," said Gene. "In the morning we found some chassis developments that are very positive in certain areas, and I am very optimistic about how these will be good for the rest of the season."

BMW's motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen said: "We have carried out several test programmes today with the two focal points being engine set-up and further development of the traction control. We are also involved with the tyre testing. For tomorrow morning a race distance is scheduled, and after that the tyre testing will be continued."

Benetton, meanwhile, fielded Webber in a 2000 machine to test different Michelin tyre compounds and Button in this season's B201, using an old specification Renault engine.

"It's really good that we will be able to conduct such a complete test programme," said Benetton's technical director Mike Gascoyne of the three-day test. "We had a productive first day with Jenson in the B201. The team managed to get a basic balance on the car and also tested new parts that were introduced at Magny-Cours last week, which were also successfully evaluated. We will be testing the upgraded specs of engines as run at the French Grand Prix."

As the opposition battles to catch up, Ferrari wasn't resting on its laurels. Test driver Luca Badoer was at Mugello today at the wheel of the latest F2001 to be built at Maranello, bearing the chassis number 213. The Italian driver's programme centred on electronics and set-up work, and he completed a total of 68 laps, the quickest being 1m24.710s. The programme will continue at the Prancing Horse's test track at Fiorano on Wednesday with Badoer again at the helm.

Williams-BMW is not only in action in Spain, as Petrobras Formula 3000 racer Ricardo Sperafico began a three-day test at the Lurcy-Levis track in France. The Brazilian is conducting straight line testing to hone the car's aerodynamics.
Marc Gene, Williams-BMW (2001), M, 1m22.263s, 42
Mark Webber, Benetton-Renault (2000), M, 1m22.509s, 44
Jenson Button, Benetton-Renault (2001), 1m22.984s, 36

Luca Badoer, Ferrari, B, 1m24.710s, 68

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