Sato tops wet Jerez test

Takuma Sato set the pace on the final day of testing at Jerez in Spain today (Friday), as the five teams present conducted a wet weather tyre test

Sato tops wet Jerez test

After much of the week's running was disrupted by rain, the Spanish circuit was greeted with warm weather and clear blue skies today. Undeterred, the circuit was dampened on a regular basis, giving the teams present consistent conditions with which to evaluate Michelin's latest offerings.

Sato completed a mammoth 117 laps, although the figure was nearer 180 if all his in and out laps were counted. It was the first time the Japanese driver had taken part in a scheduled Michelin wet test, and he was impressed with the French manufacturer's offerings.

"I can't believe how many laps I've done today," he said. "I'm a bit tired now, but I'm glad I've done so much mileage. It was really interesting. We ran the car with a dry set-up, as under the new rules you never race with a full wet set-up. It was a very good day, it's been very valuable."

Pedro de la Rosa completed his impressive week with the second quickest time in McLaren's new MP4-19. The Spaniard was highly enthused about the performance of both car and tyre.

"It was very good in the wet," said de la Rosa. "It's so easy to work. The handling is very good in the wet too, and we've done lots of work with Michelin today. The tyres reached a certain level and became very consistent. They're very quick.



"It's incredible how easy the car is to drive. I'm very happy, but let's say that I don't want to be too confident. We've still got a lot of work to do, but we've got a really good base to go from."

Christian Klien finished his second test for Jaguar with the third fastest time. The Austrian was enthusiastic about his progress this week, although he admitted that he still has a lot to learn.

"I've done lots of mileage this week," said Klien. "Every lap is so important to me. It's been a good four days getting to know the team and an F1 car. From F3 to F1 is a really big step. Although I have 105 race's experience, I need more laps in the F1 car. I'm very tired now, but I'm really looking forward to driving the new car next year."

However, not all present were as enthusiastic, with Williams tester Marc Gene not fully satisifed by the newest Michelin compounds. "I'm not convinced," he said. "It hasn't improved as much as I'd hoped. We just couldn't go fast enough consistently."

Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m27.242s 117
Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m27.997s 87*
Christian Klien Jaguar M 1m29.127s 116
Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m29.337s 100
Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m30.508s 100

M = Michelin
* denotes 2004 car

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