Williams Still Ahead at Paul Ricard - Day Three

The Williams team continued to dominate the Paul Ricard testing session, topping the times for the third day in a row.

Williams Still Ahead at Paul Ricard - Day Three

The Williams team continued to dominate the Paul Ricard testing session, topping the times for the third day in a row.

After test driver Marc Gene had gone fastest both on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was German Ralf Schumacher who finished on top of the timesheets with the FW25-02 chassis. Schumacher, who replaced Gene today, posted the fastest time of the week so far with a best lap of 1:11.221 as he concentrated on general set-up and tyre development work.

"Ralf assumed testing duties today and continued with the intensive tyre testing programme we are concentrating on in time for Austria," said Williams' test team manager Tim Newton. "Tomorrow will be the last day of the test during which we will recommence tyre evaluation."

Alexander Wurz and David Coulthard finished behind Schumacher as the McLaren team continued working with their Mercedes-powered MP4-17D. The Scot, who concentrated on general set-up work, was the busiest man today with a massive 166 laps.

The Renault team worked with both Jarno Trulli and Allan McNish, the Italian setting the fourth fastest time with the R23 while test driver McNish finished at the bottom of the times with the old R202 chassis. Trulli again worked on the development of the new Renault engine.

"Again another productive day of testing," said Renault's technical director Mike Gascoyne. "Jarno continued to run the new-spec engine in the R23. He also concentrated on long runs to assess the tyres with Michelin for the Zeltweg circuit.

"Allan completed his scheduled day's work in the R202 covering suspension work and a tyre programme. Overall, the two days we had a satisfactorily result and we now look forward to the race in Austria."

Toyota were also in action with two drivers today, with Olivier Panis taking over from teammate Cristiano da Matta while test driver Ricard Zonta worked at the French circuit for the third consecutive day. Zonta was the fastest of the Toyota duo after 84 laps.

Mark Webber carried out testing duties for the Jaguar team, while Briton Jenson Button and Japanese Takuma Sato were the man in charge of testing for BAR.

Nick Heidfeld was 10th quickest on the final day of work for the Sauber team, the German taking over from teammate Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Heidfeld, however, was unable to complete the Swiss squad's programme after he was hit by a mechanical problem in the afternoon.

"In the morning we have done the set-up for Monaco," explained Sauber's head engineer Jacky Eeckelaert. "The test functioned as a synergy of the last two days in order to confirm the data gathered so far and Nick Heidfeld checked for us the best configuration for the race.

"The afternoon schedule started well off and we conducted more aerodynamic tests for the Austrian Grand Prix next week. But about an hour before the official end of the test and just before we wanted to finish our tyre work we experienced a drive shaft failure. This forced us to stop before our programme was completed."

Testing at Paul Ricard concludes tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. R.Schumacher Williams-BMW (M) 1:11.221 97 2. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:11.322 80 3. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:12.060 166 4. Trulli Renault (M) 1:12.780 78 5. Zonta Toyota (M) 1:13.013 84 6. Sato BAR-Honda (B) 1:13.161 109 7. Webber Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:13.432 70 8. Panis Toyota (M) 1:13.574 59 9. Button BAR-Honda (B) 1:13.601 116 10. Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:14.052 87 11. McNish Renault (M) 1:15.015 76 All Timing Unofficial

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Paul Ricard, day 3: Ralf fastest

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