Silv 1: Ralf flies on test return

Williams driver Ralf Schumacher proved he had lost none of his speed since his Indianapolis accident when he blitzed the opposition on his first day of testing.

Silv 1: Ralf flies on test return

The German set a blistering pace on his first day back in the FW26 after a three-month lay-off, setting a lap faster than Kimi Raikkonen's British Grand Prix pole time, and more than a second faster than anyone else managed on the day.

"I feel very happy," said Schumacher. "I've already been in Formula 1 for many years so this is not a very, very special moment for me. But after such a long break I feel very good."

Schumacher eased himself into his acclimatisation programme, particularly since the circuit was soaked from sporadic rain showers, but was consistently fast and showed no ill effects from his enforced break.

"There is no further pain in my back," he said. "The weather forecast today was for ten percent rain, and it soon became clear it was 100 percent. So we couldn't do much to improve."

Alexander Wurz was second fastest for McLaren ahead of Anthony Davidson's BAR. Olivier Panis was fourth quickest in his Toyota, while Jenson Button was fifth. Like team-mate Davidson, the Englishman's Suzuka tyre and set-up programme was scuppered by the weather.

Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m18.015s 32
Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m19.088s 39
Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda M 1m19.370s 66
Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m19.528s 56
Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m19.558s 42
Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m19.655s 49
Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m19.725s 59
Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m19.991s 46
Timo Glock Jordan-Ford B 1m22.241s 55
Franck Montagny Renault M 1m30.484s 32
Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m32.062s 33

Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa took up Bridgestone testing duties at Jerez. The Italian Grand Prix winner was unsurprisingly quicker in his Ferrari, setting a time of 1m17.421s, more than a second and a half faster than the Sauber driver.

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