||January 14-16, 2003
||Lauri Ouvinen, Matti Ouvinen and Ville Tikkaoja
The first major testing session of the year 2003 took place at the Circuit de Catalunya
in mid-January, with McLaren, Williams, Renault, Sauber, BAR, Jaguar and Toyota doing some
serious work for the new season. There was plenty of action at the circuit from 9 am to
5 pm and the only delays in testing were caused by mechanical failures.
McLaren set the pace with the old MP4-17 (obviously with some new developments) every day
with David Coulthard breaking the lap record on Tuesday day with an impressive time of
1:15.266 and almost matching it on the following days. The team had three cars at the
circuit with both Kimi Räikkönen and Alex Wurz getting close to Coulthard's times.
The car seemed to be handling really well and the new Mercedes engine is delivering
good power; however, there are still some reliability problems to be solved.
Williams was also running three cars. Ralf Schumacher was forced to abandon testing
on Monday after some back problems. He was soon replaced by the former Larrousse driver
Olivier Beretta. Marc Gene did a lot of laps as usual. Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace
for the team on the last day with a pretty quick time of 1:16,151. Montoya also had some
mechanical problems on a couple of occasions.
Renault was running trouble-free and obviously testing some new parts for the R23 which
was launched just a few days later. Neither Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso nor the new
test driver Allan McNish set any fast laps. On the last day Alonso had a plain white
helmet which surprised even the circuit officials who listed him as McNish in the results.
B.A.R launched their new challenger on Tuesday. One of our photographers was at the launch
(the report and pictures here) while two others covered the action at the circuit. The
first test for the new B.A.R. 005 took place on Wednesday with Jenson Button behind the
wheel. On Thursday test driver Anthony Davidson continued the work. Both Button and
Davidson stopped on the circuit several times due to technical problems.
Toyota was another team testing their new 2003 car with Olivier Panis, while Christiano
da Matta continued to acclimate himself to F-1 with the old car. Toyota also had reliability
problems with the new TF103. Both cars seemed a bit nervous at the hairpin.
Like B.A.R and Toyota, Sauber was running their new car which had a plain blue colourscheme.
Both Heidfeld and Frentzen tried the new car that at least looked to be reliable. Jaguar
had just one car that was tested on Wednesday by Mark Webber and on Thursday by Antonio
During the three days the weather was perfect, if a little bit cold in the morning.
The sunny conditions allowed us to use mostly Fuji Sensia 100 and Velvia 50 slide films.