Montoya Finishes on Top at Valencia - Day One

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace on the first day of testing at the Valencia circuit in Spain, jumping to the top of the times during the afternoon session.

Montoya Finishes on Top at Valencia - Day One

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace on the first day of testing at the Valencia circuit in Spain, jumping to the top of the times during the afternoon session.

Montoya was the quickest of the three Williams drivers present on track today with a fastest lap of 1:13.336, outpacing McLaren's tester Alexander Wurz and Finn Kimi Raikkonen who, after setting the quickest time in the morning session, slid down to third despite improving his previous best by around three tenths.

Italian Giorgio Pantano, testing for the Williams team for the first time, set an impressive fourth fastest lap as the Grove-based squad evaluate young stars in order to replace former test driver Antonio Pizzonia, who left Williams to join Jaguar as racing driver for 2003.

23-year old Pantano, who forced the session to be red flagged twice due to engine problems, completed 77 laps with the FW24 and finished 1.3 seconds behind Montoya. Spaniard Marc Gene was seventh quickest in the third Williams.

Nick Heidfeld was the only driver for the Sauber team today, the young German finishing in fifth place as the Swiss squad concentrated on a gearbox test for their new car.

"The purpose today was to conduct detailed gearbox test to gather data for the forthcoming Sauber Petronas C22 which will be unveiled on February 9, next year," said Jacky Eeckelaert, Sauber's head of engineering.

"We had a successful day and were able to finish running an hour early having completed our gear-box program."

Italian Jarno Trulli, who continued putting miles on the hybrid Renault R202 chassis which included next season car's engine and gearbox, was sixth quickest.

"We are quite satisfied with this first day of testing with the interim car," said Renault's technical director Mike Gascoyne. "We didn't experience any mechanical problems and we were able to complete our programme, which was very positive.

"Tomorrow we will continue with engine and systems evaluation, including also some tyre work with Michelin."

The Minardi team today worked with Frenchman Franck Montagny and Russian Sergey Zlobin, both drivers working at the wheel of the old PS01 chassis.

"I was really looking forward to driving the Minardi PS01 today, and I think everything went well," said Montagny, who finished more than four seconds ahead of Zlobin. "The only slight problem is that I was a little tall for the cockpit, and at the beginning of the test I felt a bit uncomfortable.

"Once we started running, though, I was able to adapt. For my very first time in a F1 car, it was a good sensation and I enjoyed it very much."

Testing at Valencia resumes tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) 1:13.336 56 2. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:13.433 20 3. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:13.563 66 4. Pantano Williams-BMW (M) 1:14.617 77 5. Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:14.789 35 6. Trulli Renault (M) 1:15.390 38 7. Gene Williams-BMW (M) 1:16.257 14 8 Montagny Minardi-European (M) 1:17.043 29 9. Zlobin Minardi-European (M) 1:21.854 29 All Timing Unofficial

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