Spanish Duo on Top at Barcelona - Day One

Spanish test driver Marc Gene posted the fastest time on the first day of testing at the Barcelona circuit, where five Formula One teams began their preparations for the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix next week.

Spanish Duo on Top at Barcelona - Day One

Spanish test driver Marc Gene posted the fastest time on the first day of testing at the Barcelona circuit, where five Formula One teams began their preparations for the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix next week.

Gene, at the wheel of the Williams FW24, moved to the top of the times in the afternoon session, setting a quickest time of 1:17.288 after 48 laps with the BMW-powered car. Today's timesheets were headed by a Spanish duo after Pedro de la Rosa also improved his time in the afternoon to finish as second quickest with the only McLaren on track.

Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, who had topped the times in the morning, was third fastest after failing to improve in the afternoon with the Toyota TF103. Although Toyota's programme was initially planned to last three days, the team have decided to extend it for one more day in order to overcome the fuel pressure problem that plagued their first two races of the season.

"This morning, we started working a bit on the general set-up of the car, and we focused on some suspension work, testing a couple of new solutions," said da Matta. "In the afternoon, while we continued to go through some set-up items, we concentrated primarily on understanding the problem that affected us in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

"We know it was partly caused by the extreme temperatures in Sepang, which is clearly not easy to simulate here in Europe, but we collected a lot of good data this afternoon and we will continue working on this in the next few days."

Juan Pablo Montoya, who failed to finish in the points at last Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, wound up fourth fastest in the second Williams.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and Italian Luca Badoer were in action for the Ferrari team, who took both their F2002 and the new F2003-GA to Barcelona in order to continue its development ahead of its expected debut at the San Marino Grand Prix in April.

Badoer was the man in charge of driving the new machine, which was tested today for the first time in Barcelona after tests in Fiorano and Jerez. Barrichello, meanwhile, worked with the old F2002 and finished right in front of Badoer as he concentrated on tyre testing.

Test driver Takuma Sato finished at the bottom of the times with the only BAR 005 on track today, although the Japanese concentrated on putting the maximum amount of laps possible on the Honda-powered machine. Sato was the busiest man with 93 laps.

Testing at Barcelona continues tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Gene Williams-BMW (M) 1:17.288 48 2. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.448 68 3. da Matta Toyota (M) 1:17.531 61 4. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) 1:17.731 62 5. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:17.750 75 6. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:17.822 56 7. Sato BAR-Honda (B) 1:18.806 93 All Timing Unofficial

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Barcelona day 1: Progress for Williams

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