Jerez 1: Sauber back on form

Felipe Massa topped the times for Sauber on the first day of this week's major Jerez test - and declared himself "happy and relieved" by his team's return to form after it appeared uncompetitive at Barcelona last week

Jerez 1: Sauber back on form

The new Sauber C24 had looked promising in its first runs at Valencia, but then struggled for pace at Catalunya, leading to suggestions that Massa and team-mate Jacques Villeneuve were facing a long and difficult season in the lower midfield. Massa believes that his performance in today's Jerez session gives a truer picture of Sauber's potential.

"Today it was basic set-up work, no tyre testing or anything, just set-up work - and everything worked," Massa told autosport.com.

"After Barcelona I was very worried. In fact I was scared, because whatever we tried nothing went right. Here, whenever we made changes the car got more competitive. Now we can look forward.

"I don't understand what went wrong in Barcelona, if it was the new (track) surface or because it was very cold. I'm just so happy and relieved now."

Ironically Massa's team-mate Villeneuve was at the very bottom of the timesheets, a full 3.5s slower than the Brazilian. The 1997 world champion claimed he was not unhappy however, as he had been working on particular changes to the front end of the car and had not been concentrating on lap times.

"I want to understand what the car does and what suits me," said Villeneuve. "I started with a base set-up and made lots of changes. It didn't matter about lap times, we just kept changing parameters."

Jarno Trulli was second fastest in the new Toyota, although this time was reportedly set on a light fuel run. His team-mate Ricardo Zonta was third ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya in a McLaren fitted with an unusual horn-shaped mid-wing (see separate story).

Williams' pair Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber were seventh and eighth quickest, with recent signing Heidfeld apparently happier in the car than team-mate Webber. Reports suggest that the German's smooth driving style is proving well-suited to the new aerodynamic and tyre regulations.

Rubens Barrichello was only ninth fastest for Ferrari as the team worked on a new construction of Bridgestone tyre. Although 1.7s off the pace, Ferrari was said to be happy with the data collected regarding the new tyres.

BAR managed little running after Takuma Sato lost his rear wing and had a large accident near the end of the morning (see separate story). The team may have to curtail its test programme in the event of mechanical problems as it only has three Honda engines fitted with the latest components.

British Formula 3 champion Nelson Piquet Jr had his first run for BAR in a 2004 chassis, lapping respectably close to Anthony Davidson and Sato - although the team's problems and the difference between the cars made it hard to draw definite conclusions about his performance.



Felipe Massa (Sauber-Ferrari) 1m17.501s (65 laps)
Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 1m17.699s (58)
Ricardo Zonta (Toyota) 1m18.177s (52)
Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m18.248s (37)
Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m18.354s (75)
Fernando Alonso (Renault) 1m18.676s (123)
Nick Heidfeld (Williams-BMW) 1m18.807s (99)
Mark Webber (Williams-BMW) 1m18.987s (81)
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) 1m19.220s (39)
David Coulthard (Red Bull-Cosworth) 1m19.306s (42)
Luca Badoer (Ferrari) 1m19.724s (61)*
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) 1m19.842s (86)
Christian Klien (Red Bull-Cosworth) 1m19.975s (51)
Anthony Davidson (BAR-Honda) 1m20.307s (18)
Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) 1m20.539s (26)
Nelson Piquet Jr (BAR-Honda) 1m20.835s (41)*
Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber-Ferrari) 1m21.062s (59)

* Denotes driver in 2004 chassis. Badoer's Ferrari was modified to fit 2005 rules. All other drivers in 2005 cars.

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