Jerez 6: Ralf flies in 'race test'

Ralf Schumacher has recorded probably the most significant mileage of the 2004 Formula 1 test season when he reeled off 90 laps of Jerez today (Monday) as Williams conducted a full race simulation

Jerez 6: Ralf flies in 'race test'

His fastest time of 1m17.875s was also quick enough to eclipse Toyota's Ryan Briscoe, who reportedly set his time on low fuel and new tyres.

After a delayed start due to fog, Schumacher completed 18 laps before being forced to stop due to an engine alarm, which turned out to be caused by a faulty sensor. Following that, he completed two 25-lap stints, complete with race-spec refuelling. He was then forced to stop after further lappery due to an engine failure, although the unit was believed to have well over the 800km on it required by this season's rules.

Schumacher was delighted with the result, and told autosport.com: "We did a full race distance and it was very good. On heavy fuel, we had no problems at all. It's an easy and nice car to drive. Like I said yesterday, we have a few things to do back at the factory. I'm quite happy, it was a good test and we've completely finished our programme."

Williams chief operations engineer Sam Michael was equally upbeat. He told autosport.com: "I was pleasantly surprised with today's test. We had some small problems, with a faulty sensor and a technical problem at the end, but it's the first test we've managed a proper race simulation.

"The baseline of this car is very good. There are things to do, but I'm very happy to complete our programme here. It's a big compliment to the team both here and back at the factory. Compared to this time last year, we are almost three months ahead of where we were. It's unbelievable."

Testing continues tomorrow when the track will be artificially soaked. Williams will field two cars, with Toyota and BAR joining in with one each.

Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.875s 90*
Ryan Briscoe Toyota M 1m17.959s 107
B = Bridgestone
M = Michelin
* denotes 2004 car

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