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Panis clocks fastest time in Barcelona

NEW British American Racing driver Olivier Panis set the fastest time on the first day of a three-day testing session in Barcelona on Monday, seeing off the challenge of Briton David Coulthard in a McLaren-Mercedes.

Frenchman Panis was five-hundredths of a second quicker than Coulthard as he continued to find the right set-up with the Honda-powered team around the Circuit de Catalunya.

Ferrari's Luca Badoer was the only driver to improve on his morning time during the afternoon, setting the third quickest lap of the day.

Nick Heidfeld impressed in a Sauber and he was fourth fastest, while Pedro de la Rosa was fifth with Arrows.

Spaniard De la Rosa was replaced by Amazonian Antonio Pizzonia in the afternoon as the British Formula Three champion made his testing debut for the Arrows team.

Pizzonia is bidding to impress Arrows team boss Tom Walkinshaw as the young driver bids to earn a test-driver job in Formula One to coincide with a season in the Formula 3000 Championship next year.

New Sauber driver Kimi Raikkonen continued his learning process as he set the ninth fastest time of the session and was pleased with the way the test went on Monday.

Raikkonen said: "It was great to get more laps in the car. At this stage I am learning new things with every lap. I had a slight off when I went a bit wide on a corner, but otherwise I was pleased with the way things went."

As Panis topped the times for BAR, the team took the opportunity to try out more young drivers as part of their new development program with Marc Hynes and Takuma Sato taking to the wheel for the first time alongside experienced tester Darren Manning.

Times after Monday's testing at Barcelona:

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIME
Olivier Panis BAR 1:20:622
David Coulthard McLaren 1:20.675
Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:20.784
Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1:21.247
Pedro de la Rosa Arrows 1:21.285
Jarno Trulli Jordan 1:21.296
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan 1:21.417
Alexander Wurz McLaren 1:21.711
Kimi Raikkonen Sauber 1:22.866
10  Darren Manning BAR 1:23.359
11  Antonio Pizzonia Arrows 1:24.350
12  Takuma Sato BAR 1:24.467
13  Mark Hynes BAR 1:25.267

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