Pre-season testing winds down

Testing continued Thursday across Europe, as the teams put the finishing touches on the cars they will take to Australia next week, and continue to develop new systems for the future.

Olivier Panis showed the Toyota TF103's potential in Jerez by outpacing Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who worked in the new F2003-GA, as well as the F2002. Panis was half a second quicker than Badoer in the new Ferrari, and a full second quicker than his time in the 2002-spec car.

McLaren's David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen were third and fourth fastest at the Spanish circuit, while Ralf Schumacher was nearly two seconds off Panis' time while conducting reliability runs in the new Williams.

Jacques Villeneuve wrapped up BAR's preseason testing program in Imola. The 1997 World Champion topped the timesheet at the Italian circuit, testing tires while running with the new Honda engine. "We did a lot of laps today which was a huge improvement over the past couple of days," said Villeneuve. "We chose the tyres that we will use over the next few races and we are satisfied with our choice. The car is quick and we didn't encounter any mechanical problems today, which is very encouraging. If we can finish races we will be in a good position to score points."

Also in Imola were test drivers Marc Gene, Alexander Wurz and Ricardo Zonta testing for Williams, McLaren and Toyota respectively.

Renault tester Allan McNish was the only driver in action at Silverstone circuit Thursday, and Felipe Massa also continued testing solo at Ferrari's Fiorano circuit.

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