Silv 3: Sato on top

Takuma Sato set the fastest time on the final day of testing at Silverstone. The Japanese driver eclipsed McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Jacques Villeneuve who was on his second day of acclimatisation running with the Renault team

Silv 3: Sato on top

While Sato concentrated on a combination of aero programmes for Shanghai and Raikkonen worked through a series of long tyre evalutation runs, Villeneuve was still trying to get comfortable throughout the morning.

"I was much more comfortable in the afternoon," said Villeneuve. "We fixed the seat at lunchtime, but before that I was moving around in the car too much. After we fixed it I wasn't hanging off the steering wheel so much and I could feel the car better."

The progress he made in terms of comfort were reflected in his times, which hovered around the 1m19s bracket during the morning. In the afternoon they descended through the 1m18s bracket and eventually his late afternoon low-fuel flier, a 1m17.434s, placed him less than a tenth off the fastest time of the day (although more than a second slower than Raikkonen's all-time unofficial record lap from yesterday). Not bad for a bloke that hasn't driven an F1 car for nearly a year.

"I'm happy with what I've done," he said afterwards. "It's more physical than I remember it being, but I had no problems physically, so all that training early in the year has paid off."

So will he be racing in China? "I don't know what is going to happen," he said. Sources suggest that his bags may already be packed however.

Williams returnee Ralf Schumacher was fourth fastest and was another to declare himself happy with his progress: "I must say the car is much better now than when I last drove it, it is much easier to drive, especially with regards to downforce. I'm now really looking forward to the next three races and giving the team my very best."

His very best didn't include a scheduled race simulation, which the Williams team switched to Marc Gene's programme only for the Spaniard's engine to blow up.

Sixth was Jarno Trulli driving a Toyota for the first time. Trulli reported himself surprisingly happy with several systems on the TF104 although admitted other areas needed improvement. (Click HERE for the full story).

Test drivers Anthony Davidson, Pedro de la Rosa, Franck Montagny and Ryan Briscoe filled out the top ten, while yet another F1 returnee, Enrique Bernoldi, was 11th for BAR-Honda. The former Arrows driver only managed 11 laps before the gearbox failed however.

Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m17.398s 80
Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.410s 94
Jacques Villeneuve Renault M 1m17.434s 63
Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.725s 54
Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m17.813s 86
Jarno Trulli Toyota M 1m17.913s 83
Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda M 1m17.967s 69
Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.405s 92
Franck Montagny Renault M 1m19.136s 89
Ryan Briscoe Toyota M 1m19.152s 84
Enrique Bernoldi BAR-Honda M 1m21.351s 11

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