Sato on Top at Rainy Jerez - Day One

Japanese driver Takuma Sato posted the quickest time on the opening day of the final test of 2003, which was kicked off today at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

Sato on Top at Rainy Jerez - Day One

Japanese driver Takuma Sato posted the quickest time on the opening day of the final test of 2003, which was kicked off today at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

Like it happened in last week's test, the teams present at the Spanish track were welcomed by poor weather, and all four drivers in action today were forced to work on a wet circuit. BAR-Honda driver Sato finished on top of the times despite an accident which saw him crashing against the barriers right before the Sito Pons corner.

Sato, at the wheel of the concept car from the Brackley-based squad, finished more than three tenths of a second quicker than Italian Luca Badoer, who today was the only tester in action for the World Champions. Badoer covered only 12 laps with the F2003-GA.

Brazilian Felipe Massa made his return to the Sauber team today, having wrapped up his testing work for Ferrari at the end of last week. Massa, who will race alongside Giancarlo Fisichella at Sauber next season, completed 36 laps to post the third fastest time ahead of BAR test driver Anthony Davidson.

"Today in the morning we adapted Felipe's seat and optimised its position before we could start our programme for today which focused on intermediate tyre tests," said Sauber's chief engineer Jacky Eeckelaert. "Just at the time when we finished this it started to rain heavily.

"We actually intended to continue our schedule of the week and wanted to conduct some further evaluations but under these weather conditions it was simply impossible to go out again. But at least we were able to complete our programme of today so far.

"Felipe had a good return to the team today. He, of course, still knows the staff and the way we work, but also recognised that we made a big jump from the C21 to the C22 and its improvements. It felt as if he has never been away from Sauber."

Testing at Jerez continues tomorrow, when eight teams will be in action.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:25.938 51 2. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:26.275 12 3. Massa Sauber (B) 1:26.280 36 4. Davidson BAR-Honda (M) 1:26.723 69 All Timing Unofficial

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