Montagny Sets the Pace at Barcelona - Day One

Frenchman Franck Montagny set the pace on the first day of this week's testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, where four Formula One teams kicked off the second test of the off-season.

Montagny Sets the Pace at Barcelona - Day One

Frenchman Franck Montagny set the pace on the first day of this week's testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, where four Formula One teams kicked off the second test of the off-season.

Montagny, Renault's official test driver, was also the busiest man on track today as he worked with the French squad's R23 car. The Frenchman completed a massive 108 laps of the Spanish circuit, posting a fastest time of 1:16.329, almost three tenths of a second quicker than Scot David Coulthard.

The McLaren driver was at the wheel of the Mercedes-powered MP4-19 as the Woking-based squad continued with the development of their 2004 challenger following its first test in Valencia last week. Coulthard managed to complete 75 laps and outpaced his Austrian teammate Alexander Wurz, who worked with the MP4-17D and set the fourth quickest time.

Test driver Wurz finished behind Australian Mark Webber in the first of the Jaguars, the second driven by Austrian Christian Klien, who was today announced as Webber's teammate for the 2004 season. Klien, who was impressive on his debut in Valencia last week, posted the seventh fastest time with the second Cosworth-powered R4 after 91 laps. He finished more than a second behind Webber.

The Toyota team were also in action at Barcelona today with both their test drivers Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe at the wheel of the TF103. The Brazilian was the fastest of the two, outpacing Australian driver Briscoe by over half a second on his way to the fifth quickest time of the session.

20-year old Argentinean driver Jose Maria Lopez made his Formula One debut today with the Renault team. Lopez, who was crowned champion of the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup in his first season in Renault's Driver Development programme, was more than 2.5 seconds slower than Montagny after 59 laps.

"Overall, a successful day for us in Barcelona," said Pat Symonds, Renault's Executive Director of Engineering. "Franck continued his good work from Valencia, and finished the day atop the timesheets. 'J-Lo', as he has been christened, also had a very productive run: he made no mistakes, gave us very good chassis feedback and set reasonable lap-times.

"He was unfortunate to have an engine failure on what was going to be his quickest lap by some margin, and which would have been close to the target we had set him."

Testing continues tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Time Laps 1. Montagny Renault (M) 1:16.329 108 2. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:16.607 75 3. Webber Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:17.178 94 4. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.250 77 5. Zonta Toyota (M) 1:17.679 85 6. Briscoe Toyota (M) 1:18.188 79 7. Klien Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:18.273 91 8. Lopez Renault (M) 1:18.892 59 All Timing Unofficial

Visit Atlas F1's Testing Center for further information

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