Paul Ricard day 4: more rain, more pain

The final day of testing at Paul Ricard was hit by afternoon rain, after Marc Gene went quickest for Williams with a 1m07.073s lap. The McLarens of Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz were 0.6s and 0.7s behind him on the timesheets, with Ricardo Zonta's BAR fourth fastest

Paul Ricard day 4: more rain, more pain

After yesterday's outburst from BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve, in which he slated the track for being "dangerous" and "not much help" to the teams' testing programmes, it was the turn of the other drivers to have their say.

Wurz said: "I do not feel too safe here. It's a good technical circuit but there is not enough run-off in some areas." The plucky Austrian conquered his fears, though, completing a chart-topping 118 laps of the compact 3.5km circuit, component testing.

Briton Jenson Button, for once, agreed with his team-mate: "The kerbs here are too low, so you tend to use too much of the circuit," he said. "There is no grip on the asphalt run-off in the wet and the lack of tyre barriers make it stupidly dangerous." The BAR driver's running was curtailed with gearbox problems and he finished sixth quickest.

Pedro de la Rosa likewise agreed with his colleagues, saying that the track provided suitable preparation for races at the A1 ring and Monaco, "but not much else". The Catalan struggled to match Raikkonen's pace on the day, finishing fifth, while the pair tested tyre compounds for next weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.

Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Beretta brought up the rear for Toyota and Williams, respectively. Da Matta working on set-up options, while Beretta concentrated on learning the track and making the most of his first time round the circuit in an F1 car.

"It was a good test," said da Matta, "but better yesterday. We tried some different settings, which should be good for Imola. I am more and more comfortable in the car and I'm looking forward to the next race."

The next round of testing takes place after San Marino at Silverstone and Mugello. Three teams return to Britain, Jordan, Renault and Williams, the rest will stay in Italy.


Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m.07.073s 72
Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m07.724s 87
Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m07.814s 118
Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m08.288s 101
P de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m08.526s 78
J Button BAR-Honda B 1m08.609s 71
Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m08.590s 98
Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m09.969s 45
O Beretta Williams-BMW M 1m.09.762s 49

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Gene Leads the Way at Paul Ricard - Final Day

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