Jerez 1: Heidfeld shines

Nick Heidfeld began his campaign to win a race seat at Williams in perfect style on Monday when he outpaced Mark Webber during testing at Jerez in Spain to top the first day of Formula 1 action in 2005

Jerez 1: Heidfeld shines

The German, who is fighting with Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia for the right to become Webber's full-time team-mate in 2005, set his quickest time in the morning as the two drivers lapped the track at the same time while evaluating components for the forthcoming season.

With the track and weather conditions meaning that the best times from the day would come before lunchtime, Heidfeld was all but guaranteed the top spot early in the day as the pair ran with fairly similar specification hybrid 2004/5 cars.

Speaking to autosport.com at the end of the day, Heidfeld declared himself happy with his day's performance.

"I was doing some long runs, putting mileage on the engine and gearbox," he said. "The car is getting very reliable now. In the afternoon I stopped for a short while because we had to change some components on the car and later in the afternoon I went off the track and put some dirt on the circuit which brought out the red flags, but there was no damage to the car."

Heidfeld is well aware that the team is watching his every move closely as it edges closer a decision on who will partner Webber. But, despite the pressure, the German has insisted that he is relaxed about his situation.

"I was thinking about this year throughout the Christmas period, but I wasn't nervous at all," he said. "I have been in a similar situation before a couple of times, but it is good that I will get some more chances with the team and I know that I have got the same number of test days as Antonio, so we will see. But yes, I am confident."

Anthony Davidson, BAR's test driver, set the third quickest time as he put mileage on a new upgraded engine from Honda. Enrique Bernoldi returned to the fold for the team, but he was left struggling with his neck after perhaps relaxing too much over the Christmas holidays.

BAR's continued strategy of running its hybrid car with 2005 levels of downforce meant Davidson and Bernoldi had little chance of matching the Williams duo and ensured that lap times had little relevance to overall performance.

Toyota's transporter arrived at the Jerez circuit at lunchtime and Ralf Schumacher is expected to conduct the first runs of its new TF105, which was unveiled at the weekend, on Tuesday.



Nick Heidfeld (Williams) 1m17.457s, 91 laps
Mark Webber (Williams) 1m17.583s, 90 laps
Anthony Davidson (BAR) 1m18.202s, 75 laps
Enrique Bernoldi (BAR), 1m19.255s, 89 laps

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