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Button sets fastest time for new Benetton team at Barcelona test

JENSON BUTTON set the fastest lap time for his new Benetton team on Thursday in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona.

Button posted the time in only his second test for the Enstone-based team, to whom he is loaned for the next two seasons from BMW-Williams.

The British driver set his fastest lap of one minute and 21.233 seconds around the Spanish track as he tested Benetton's brakes and new Michelin tires.

Button was closely followed in the times by new Formula One sensation Fernando Alonso, who is wanted by Benetton but is currently contracted to struggling Italian team Minardi.

Spaniard Alonso set a fastest lap of one minute and 21.474 seconds as he completed 360 kilometers of testing - 60 kilometers over the required limit to earn a super licence to race in Formula One next year.

Alonso is expected to race for Minardi next season if the team can arrange a new engine and sponsorship deal for the year.

Alonso beat Button's replacement at BMW-Williams Juan Pablo Montoya and BMW-Williams test-driver Marc Gene.

Montoya said: "I had a good day. We complete some longer runs and combined with my ever increasing familiarity with the car, I am very happy with the results of the last three days."

Gene added: "We have worked quite successfully on various areas of the car and I'm encouraged with what we have achieved.

"We have continued with engine development and also worked on set-up. The new engine is coming along very well indeed."

Benetton and BMW-Williams were joined in Barcelona by fellow Michelin tire users Jaguar, who gave a debut outing to young German driver Andre Loterrer, and Prost, who tested young pilot Oriol Servia alongside veteran Jean Alesi.

Times after Thursday's testing at Barcelona:

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIME
Jenson Button Benetton 1:21.233
Fernando Alonso Benetton 1:21.474
Juan Pablo Montoya BMW-Williams 1:22.008
Marc Gene BMW-Williams 1:22.307
Jean Alesi Prost 1:22.828
Luciano Burti Jaguar 1:22.844
Andre Lotterer Jaguar 1:23.250
Oriol Servia Prost 1:24.668

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