Gene Sets the Pace with FW25 at Jerez - Day Three

The Williams team continued to dominate the first testing session of 2004, with Marc Gene topping the times ahead of Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.

Gene Sets the Pace with FW25 at Jerez - Day Three

The Williams team continued to dominate the first testing session of 2004, with Marc Gene topping the times ahead of Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.

Gene, who was at the wheel of the 2003-spec FW25 car, posted a quickest time of 1:17.401 to finish less than a tenth of a second ahead of Montoya, who continued with the development of the new FW26 chassis, with which he had gone fastest on the first two days.

"Juan Pablo and Marc returned to the track today to continue preparation work of the new car," explained chief operations engineer Sam Michael. "Juan Pablo progressed development of the FW26, concentrating on mechanical and aero set ups.

"Having completed 56 laps, we're pleased with the data we've recorded and will continue work on the FW26 over the weekend with Ralf. Again Marc was running the FW25B and successfully completed 71 laps and recorded the best time of the session while progressing with the tyre testing programme."

The Renault team concluded their three-day programme today, with Italian Jarno Trulli setting the third fastest time. French test driver Franck Montagny was fifth right behind Scot David Coulthard in the quickest of the two McLarens on track.

"We have had a good week in Jerez, rounded off by a productive final day. In particular, the results from our tyre testing were very pleasing," said Renault's Pat Symonds.

Last year's Championship runner-up Kimi Raikkonen got behind the wheel of the McLaren MP4-19 for the first time today, taking over from Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa. Raikkonen, who had not driven an F1 car since the end of the 2003 season, completed 33 laps and set the ninth fastest time of the day.

"It is still early days as I have only completed one day's running, but the car felt good," the Finn told the McLaren website. "The main focus was for me to get acquainted with the car, making sure I was comfortable in it and getting used to how it felt on track."

Toyota were again working with Olivier Panis, who was joined by his teammate Cristiano da Matta at the wheel of the second TF103. The Frenchman outpaced the Brazilian by over a second.

"I am very happy with this test," said Panis. "We were able to complete a lot of laps over the three days. We worked on the reliability of the TF103B car for the first two days and managed over 130 laps, which is really quite encouraging.

"Today I switched to the 103 car and did some long runs to evaluate tyres with Michelin and everything went well. I am excited that our new TF104 car is being launched next week, and confident that it will be a big step forward."

Once again today, Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa were in action for the Ferrari team to continue the tyre and electronics test programme initiated on Wednesday. The Italian was the faster of the two after 85 laps, while Massa covered a total of 81.

The BAR-Honda team joined the Jerez test with both racing driver Takuma Sato and British tester Anthony Davidson, who saw his session cut short due to a massive engine failure early in the morning as he was driving along the start/finish straight.

Both BAR drivers were at the wheel of the interim 005 chassis, before they Brackley-based outfit unveil their new 006 on February 1st. Sato also caused one of the massive 11 red flags seen today when he went off the track at the Peluqui corner.

Testing at Jerez continues tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Gene Williams-BMW (M) 1:17.401 68 2. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) 1:17.500 54 3. Trulli Renault (M) 1:17.683 87 4. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.998 75 5. Montagny Renault (M) 1:18.320 75 6. Panis Toyota (M) 1:18.513 94 7. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:18.576 85 8. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:18.896 81 9. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:18.914 33 10. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:18.996 82 11. da Matta Toyota (M) 1:19.589 45 12. Davidson BAR-Honda (M) 1:19.724 22 All Timing Unofficial

Visit Atlas F1's Testing Center for further information

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