Panis returns to testing at Barcelona and tops times

OLIVIER PANIS returned to testing for British American Racing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday and proceeded to set the quickest lap time of the day.

Frenchman Panis, who joined BAR from McLaren in the close-season, completed 72 laps of work with his best lap being one minute and 19.764 seconds.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello was second quickest as he worked on the team's new Bridgestone tires. The Brazilian driver recorded a best lap of one minute and 20.282 seconds.

Italian Jarno Trulli was third in the times, fractionally ahead of Sauber duo Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen.

Enrique Bernoldi made his debut as an official Arrows driver and showed his potential by beating Jacques Villeneuve's BAR, Juan Pablo Montoya in a BMW-Williams and Giancarlo Fisichella for Benetton.

Montoya drove in BMW-Williams new FW23 car for the first time and, despite some problems with the V10 BMW engine, enjoyed the experience.

"The car felt really good," said Montoya. "I spent the day doing some set-up work but my running was limited as I was stopped by some minor engine problems."

Fisichella drove Benetton's new B201 car for the first time in the afternoon after setting his best time in last year's B200 in the morning. The B201 was livery free as the team will launch their new car on February 6 in Venice. His team-mate Button was the slowest of the day.

Times after Thursday's testing at Barcelona:

Olivier Panis BAR 1:19.764
Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:20.282
Jarno Trulli Jordan 1:20.389
Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1:20.429
Kimi Raikkonen Sauber 1:20.719
Enrique Bernoldi Arrows 1:21.001
Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1:21.175
Juan Pablo Montoya BMW-Williams 1:21.601
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton 1:21.689
10  Jenson Button Benetton 1:22.354

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