Schumacher Tops the Times at Jerez - Day One

World Champion Michael Schumacher returned to work today following his victory at the Italian Grand Prix last Sunday.

Schumacher Tops the Times at Jerez - Day One

World Champion Michael Schumacher returned to work today following his victory at the Italian Grand Prix last Sunday.

The Ferrari star was one of three drivers to kick off their teams' preparations for the upcoming United States Grand Prix, working at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain, where the Italian squad will test alongside Sauber, Toyota and BAR over the week.

At the wheel of an F2003-GA, Schumacher today worked on set-up and a Bridgestone tyre development programme. The German driver completed a total of 100 laps to finish almost a whole second ahead of compatriot Nick Heidfeld with the only Sauber C22 on track today.

"Today we have worked on the downforce level of Suzuka and the test went without problems," said Remi Decorzent, Sauber's race engineer. "We also evaluated new suspension components which will be used this and next year. Tomorrow we will work with Bridgestone on the tyre compounds for Suzuka and run a downforce level test with regard to the US Grand Prix next week."

Brazilian Ricardo Zonta was the other man in action at Jerez today. The Toyota test driver completed 72 laps with the Japanese team's TF103 and set the slowest time of the day after being involved in the only incident of the day when he went off at Peluqui corner.

"I haven't driven at Jerez for almost three years, so I have spent some time this morning reacquainting myself with the track," said Zonta. "We have managed quite a few laps today, concentrating on car set-up and more long-term development work, whilst Cristiano (da Matta) is over in Barcelona today and tomorrow doing work specifically for the last two races of the season in Indianapolis and Suzuka."

Testing at Jerez will continue tomorrow, when the BAR team will join with Takuma Sato and Jenson Button.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:19.260 100 2. Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:20.214 63 3. Zonta Toyota (M) 1:21.105 72 All Timing Unofficial

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Jerez, day 1: Schumacher sets pace

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