Atlas F1 News Service

Montoya Sets the Pace at Magny-Cours - Day One

Wednesday September 5th, 2001

Four teams kicked off on Wednesday a three-day testing session at the French Magny-Cours circuit, with Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya finishing on top of the timesheets with his Williams-BMW.

The rookie, who endured a disappointing weekend in Belgium after setting his second pole position of the season, was less than four hundreds of a second quicker than Jenson Button in the Benetton, the Renault-owned team continuing with their good form following Giancarlo Fisichella's third place at Spa. Williams's test driver Marc Gene was third quickest.

German Nick Heidfeld posted the fourth fastest time for the Sauber team, who began working in order to discover the cause of the transmission problems that hampered them during the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend. Heidfeld, the only Bridgestone runner at the circuit, also tested different compounds for the Japanese manufacturer.

Heidfeld said: "We were still honing the balance of the car as testing finished today, but we have done some solid running and are learning more about our transmission problem so that we can prevent a recurrence."

Czech Tomas Enge, who this week signed a deal to become the Prost team's test driver until the end of the season, set the slowest time of the day in his debut with the Guyancourt-based outfit. The F3000 star became the first Czech driver to try a Formula One car, completing a total of 63 laps at the wheel of the Ferrari-powered AP04 and was less than a second slower than Montoya.

Today's times:

Pos  Driver        Team-Engine         Tyres  Time   
 1.  Montoya       Williams-BMW        (M)    1:15.366
 2.  Button        Benetton-Renault    (M)    1:15.401
 3.  Gene          Williams-BMW        (M)    1:15.606
 4.  Heidfeld      Sauber-Petronas     (B)    1:15.620
 5.  Enge          Prost-Acer          (M)    1:16.322

All Timing Unofficial

Published at 17:42:52 GMT

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