Paul Ricard, day 1: Montoya quickest

Extreme winds blighted the resumption of testing at Paul Ricard today (Tuesday), as three teams got down to work in preparation for the unique challenges of Monaco. Juan Pablo Montoya was fastest, with a 1m12.089s lap, closely shadowed by Williams stable mate Marc Gene

Paul Ricard, day 1: Montoya quickest

"It's pretty dangerous out there," said the Colombian. "The car was moving all over the place on the straight."

The session was almost stopped at one point when the gusting Mistral wind became particularly strong. Part of the McLaren team awning collapsed and had to be wired to David Coulthard's motorhome, next door, to keep it in place. Team principal Ron Dennis arrives tomorrow, with his top technicians and a set of replacement awning poles.

It was an inauspicious start to the test where McLaren is due to debut its new car. The first MP4-18 arrives at the Le Castellet airstrip at 06:00 tomorrow morning, with Alexander Wurz pencilled in to drive it during the day, but worsening conditions may well force the team to put back its schedule.

Wurz went third quickest in an MP4-17D, despite suffering a sensor failure late in the day and bringing out the red flags. The Austrian driver shed doubt on the usefulness of struggling around in the conditions: "It's actually pretty useless to test in this wind," he said. "I'm looking forward to testing the new car, but not so much in these conditions."

Toyota's Olivier Panis ran fourth quickest, with Pedro de la Rosa bringing up the rear in the second McLaren. The Spaniard brought out a second red flag when his car ground to a halt with an unspecified engine problem. The only other stoppage of the day was caused by a technical problem on Marc Gene's Williams.

Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m12.089s 89
Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m12.673s 97
Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m13.135s 78
Olivier Panis Toyota B 1m13.724s 67
Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m13.876s 96

B = Bridgestone
M = Michelin

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