McLaren-Mercedes dominated testing today [Wednesday] at Barcelona, with the top three times all being set by drivers from the Woking based concern.

David Coulthard was again quickest like yesterday and the Scot's best was a 1m 15.278s. Test driver Alexander Wurz was second, while Kimi Raikkonen came in third, nearly a second slower than DC.

More teams joined the Spanish test today namely Renault, Jaguar, and B.A.R. The weather was again reasonably kind, and although it was cold, dry conditions let the teams continue to notch up a significant amount of trouble free laps.

Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen was 'best of the rest', fourth quickest in his first run with the new Sauber C22. The German said: "I was very excited to get my hands on the C22 for the first time today, after the way Nick spoke about it yesterday. I have to say he was right. The car feels more stable than the C21 and easier to drive. It's going to be good."

Fifth was Olivier Panis, the Frenchman though was slightly disappointed as he completed only 33 laps in the 2003 Toyota, the TF103. His team-mate, Cristiano da Matta, in contrast notched up 95 laps in the TF102B, the most of anyone driver, he was however over a second slower.

Sixth and seventh was BMW WilliamsF1 driver's Marc Gene and Juan Pablo Montoya, both split by only a tenth of a second. Three Williams' were on track though, as Olivier Beretta was again running for the Grove based concern.

Nick Heidfeld reverted to the 2002 Sauber and was around a second slower than Frentzen, eighth quickest overall. With da Matta ninth, it was left for Jenson Button to round out the top ten, the Brit giving the new B.A.R Honda 005, which was launched yesterday, it's first outing on the Barcelona track.

"Today has been a good start," said Button. "It's difficult to judge the car in performance terms because we haven't really started on our set-up work, but generally I'm very pleased with what we've achieved. This is the first time we've run the new engine and we've mainly focused on reliability and checking things through."

Eleventh was Jaguar's Mark Webber and then came Beretta and the two Renault's, one driven by Fernando Alonso and the other by test driver, Allan McNish, who was drafted in unexpectedly after Jarno Trulli was not feeling well enough to test.

Testing continues tomorrow [Thursday], although Sauber will not be present, having concluded their three-day test today.

Leading times (15 January) - Barcelona:

1. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1m 15.278s 38 laps**
2. Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m 15.511s 65 laps**
3. Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1m 16.158s 37 laps**
4. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas 1m 16.656s 75 laps*
5. Olivier Panis Toyota 1m 16.884s 33 laps**
6. Marc Gene Williams-BMW 1m 17.115s 67 laps**
7. Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1m 17.278s 74 laps**
8. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1m 17.775s 30 laps*
9. Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m 18.124s 95 laps**
10. Jenson Button BAR-Honda 1m 18.388s 28 laps*
11. Mark Webber Jaguar-Cosworth 1m 18.732s 73 laps**
12. Olivier Beretta Williams-BMW 1m 19.395s 45 laps**
13. Fernando Alonso Renault 1m 20.515s 46 laps**
14. Allan McNish Renault 1m 21.157s 24 laps**

* - denotes Bridgestone tyres
** - denotes Michelin tyres.

Weather / Track Conditions: Dry and cold.

 

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