Valencia 3: Kimi in top form

Kimi Raikkonen proved that the new generation of Formula 1 cars are not going to be much slower than their predecessors when he topped the times at Valencia in Spain on Thursday - edging out the 2004 McLaren of Alexander Wurz

Valencia 3: Kimi in top form

Raikkonen put in his time late in the day during a short-lap stint, but was running low on fuel - so low, in fact, that he ran out after setting his quick time and stopped out on the track. His best lap of one minute 09.005 seconds beat the unofficial lap record set by Antonio Pizzonia last year.

Jarno Trulli made the most of what is widely believed to have been an ultra low fuel-load to grab the third quickest time, just ahead of the Renault of Fernando Alonso who again spent much of the day focusing on long runs - although not as extensive as they had been earlier in the week.

Takuma Sato gave BAR more reason to feel optimistic about its relative form against Renault than it had been on Wednesday when he ended the day just behind Alonso, although he still admitted that the team was struggling to adapt as well to Michelin's latest compounds as the other teams.

"It's really, really difficult for us to find a tyre that is consistent on the car," Sato told autosport.com.

Nick Heidfeld declared himself much happier with the progress of the Williams FW27 after focusing on tyre evaluation, as he was just a few hundredths of a second behind Sato.

"Today I did tyres all day and a check on the systems," Heidfeld told autosport.com. "I did some change to the set-up, which was okay, and with the tyre tests I am so far happy because the pace was reasonably consistent. It was a good day."

The same could not be said for world champion Michael Schumacher, whose day was interrupted by two stoppages out on the track in the updated F2004. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello was trying out the F2004M.

"We had an engine defect, which was probably caused by another problem before," said Schumacher. "There was something which we did wrong that caused the second red flag. But as long as we can explain and understand these things then we are not worried by it."



Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m09.005s, 117 laps
Alexander Wurz (McLaren*), 1m09.946s, 134 laps
Jarno Trulli (Toyota), 1m10.198s, 99 laps
Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m10.306s, 62 laps
Takuma Sato (BAR), 1m10.465s, 146 laps
Nick Heidfeld (Williams), 1m10.499s, 101 laps
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m10.507s, 82 laps
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari*), 1m10.890s, 50 laps
Mark Webber (Williams), 1m11.118s, 71 laps
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1m11.137s, 47 laps
Jenson Button (BAR), 1m11.557s, 115 laps
Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), 1m11.577s, 47 laps
Adam Carroll (BAR), 1m12.172s, 71 laps

* - denotes 2004 car

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