Villeneuve Keeps Sauber on Top at Jerez - Day Three

The Sauber team continued with their impressive off-season form as Jacques Villeneuve topped the times on the third day of testing at the wet Jerez circuit, which was again hit by the rain.

Villeneuve Keeps Sauber on Top at Jerez - Day Three

The Sauber team continued with their impressive off-season form as Jacques Villeneuve topped the times on the third day of testing at the wet Jerez circuit, which was again hit by the rain.

Canadian Villeneuve replaced Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa, quickest yesterday, at the wheel of the only Sauber in action at Jerez. The former World Champion continued acclimatising to his new team, working on aerodynamics and tyre testing for Michelin.

"Today the weather was just like yesterday and the forecast for tomorrow is also not very promising, which makes testing a bit difficult," said Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber's race engineer. "Therefore Jacques mostly used the day to further acclimatise to the car and the team. However, as soon as the track started to dry up in the afternoon we were able to do our best laps.

"We couldn't get a lot of references concerning aerodynamic and mechanical set-up tests, but we adapted our programme to the conditions and focused on further Michelin tyre work. Overall, despite of the bad weather and track conditions we still did quite a lot and the performance was pretty good."

Nick Heidfeld completed his two-day test with the Williams team, the German going head to head with Antonio Pizzonia, considered the favourite to land the second racing seat at the British squad.

Heidfeld, however, was the fastest of the two, finishing nearly a second ahead of Pizzonia.

"I'm really happy with the two days I've had in the car," said Heidfeld. "It's a very nice car to drive, and I was getting more familiar with it lap by lap. I think I would have benefited from some more time, and better weather to get a proper feel of how the car handles in the dry. Overall though, it's been a very productive and satisfying test."

Austrian Christian Klien and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi continued carrying out testing duties for the Red Bull Racing team, who tomorrow will test Swiss driver Neel Jani. Both men had a positive session, with Liuzzi finishing as third fastest right in front of Klien.

Briton James Rossiter made his debut at the wheel of a Grand Prix as the BAR-Honda team continued with their evaluation of young drivers. Rossiter, third in this year's British Formula Three championship, worked alongside Alan van der Merwe, who had already tested yesterday.

BAR also worked with Takuma Sato, at the wheel of the interim car, and Enrique Bernoldi, who finished slowest with the 006 car after crashing during the morning session. The Brazilian lost control of his car at the Dry Sack corner and damaged his car after hitting the barriers. He was unable to continue testing due to the damage on his car.

The Renault and McLaren teams joined the Jerez test after skipping the first two days of work. The French squad worked with Giancarlo Fisichella and Franck Montagny, while McLaren had both their test drivers Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa on track.

"Although the rain meant we completed a more restricted programme than we would have done on a dry track, it nevertheless provided the opportunity to complete a large amount of useful software development," said Renault's chief test engineer Christian Silk.

"Also, Giancarlo had never driven on Michelin wet tyres before, so the conditions helped him in another aspect of his acclimatisation to our package."

Ralf Schumacher was the only Toyota driver in action after Italian teammate Jarno Trulli was forced to miss the test due to a problem with his eye. The Italian, wearing an eye patch, did not take to the track.

Ferrari, with test drivers Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, continued working on testing tyres and new components, the Italian outpacing the Spaniard by over one second.

Robert Doornbos worked alone for the Jordan team, and he covered 49 laps on his way to the 15th quickest time of the day.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:22.061 74 2. Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 1:22.430 96 3. Liuzzi Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:22.631 68 4. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:23.124 35 5. Pizzonia Williams-BMW (M) 1:23.382 48 6. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:24.115 44 7. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:24.525 42 8. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:24.700 48 9. Montagny Renault (M) 1:24.774 41 10. van der Merwe BAR-Honda (M) 1:25.446 36 11. R.Schumacher Toyota (M) 1:26.200 54 12. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:27.553 38 13. Gene Ferrari (B) 1:28.929 37 14. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:29.697 23 15. Doornbos Jordan-Ford (B) 1:32.211 49 16. Rossiter BAR-Honda (M) 1:33.474 34 17. Bernoldi BAR-Honda (M) 1:33.493 14 All Timing Unofficial

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