Jerez 4: Button tops in Spain

Jenson Button has put his team's recent problems behind him by claiming the best ever time for a 2005 car at an increasingly hot Jerez today. Button's time was just short of the unofficial track record, claimed by Michael Schumacher in testing last year.

Jerez 4: Button tops in Spain

Button put in his time early in the morning session, before the heat of the day started to affect the track and slow down the cars. The time was good enough to beat an increasingly confident Juan Pablo Montoya by half a second, with Michael Schumacher a further 0.5s behind.

Claiming the second best time of the day didn't seem to faze the Colombian, whose relaxed disposition and broad, beaming grin were his constant companions despite some small delays as the team waited for a supply of wishbones to arrive from the factory earlier in the day.

"There is really no problem at all," Montoya later smiled. "The car is just going around and around. I'm quite happy with the car - in fact I'm quite confident."

When asked about his championship hopes he laughed, "it's a bit too early to say!"

With most teams concentrating on long runs to improve reliability in both the engines and tyres, there were few incidents of note to deflect the teams' attention from the job at hand. Very early in the morning Vitantonio Liuzzi ran off track just as his Red Bull team leader David Coulthard was leaving the pits - Liuzzi returned, showing no damage, while Coulthard managed to stop before he left the pitlane, allowing his mechanics to push the car back.

Enrique Bernoldi and Nick Heidfeld book-ended the lunch break with off track incidents, both bringing their cars back to the pits without damage, although Ralf Schumacher was less fortunate, losing his clutch as he was re-entering the pits, necessitating replacement. Button also stopped on track just at the close of the afternoon session, at which time the session was stopped to allow his car to be retrieved.

The Toyotas of Ricardo Zonta and Ralf Schumacher were markedly off the pace, although the latter claimed that the car was running better in Jerez than it had in Valencia. Zonta worked on long runs, as well as shaking down the TF104B that he will use over the weekend, when Toyota plans to run wet weather tyre testing.

Jenson Button (BAR), 1m15.680s, 129 laps
Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1m16.198s, 95 laps
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m16.668s, 126 laps
David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing), 1m16.822s, 101 laps
Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m17.336s, 101 laps
Mark Webber (Williams), 1m17.421s, 113 laps
Vitantonio Liuzzi (Red Bull Racing), 1m17.439s, 107 laps
Ricardo Zonta (Toyota), 1m17.719s, 116 laps
Nick Heidfeld (Williams), 1m17.932s, 130 laps
Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), 1m18.062s, 109 laps
Enrique Bernoldi (BAR*), 1m18.585s, 121 laps
Luca Badoer (Ferrari*), 1m18.778s, 79 laps

* - denotes 2004 car

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