New Toyota signing Christiano da Matta topped the timesheets at the Circuit de Catalunya at the weekend as Williams BMW gave the FW25 its first outing.

New Toyota signing Christiano da Matta topped the timesheets at the Circuit de Catalunya at the weekend as Williams BMW gave the FW25 its first outing.

The Panasonic Toyota Racing team began a four-day test programme in Barcelona, just two days after having tested three days at the Valencia track. Da Matta was at the wheel of the TF103, and set a best time of 1m17.182 over 57 laps.

"It is my third test at the Barcelona circuit with the team, but actually my first here at the wheel of the TF103,” Da Matta said. “After this first day, I can already say that I am happy with the way the car behaves on this track.

“The TF103 was well balanced, even more than on the Valencia circuit in the last days. We managed many laps and it was a good beginning to our four-day test here since we have an extensive technical programme to cover," he added.

On Sunday, Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gené carried out the first tests of the BMW-powered Williams FW25 for the season.

The test session took place in chilly weather. In the morning, temperatures of only slightly above zero had been measured, during the day temperatures rose to only 10 degrees with the sky overcast at the Grand Prix circuit for the most part.

Nevertheless, Ralf and Gene gave the FW25, which was launched on Friday, a thorough shakedown. Both drivers undercut the fastest race lap of last year, which was set by Michael Schumacher. Gene set his fastest lap of the day on his 40th lap (1:18,280), but Ralf was evidently on a different setup and could only manage 1:19.800.

In the 52 laps Ralf completed, he performed a long stint of ten laps. Marc completed 85 laps and achieved the top speed of the day - 293,69 km/h.

Da Matta will continue testing at the Barcelona track today before French team-mate Olivier Panis takes over on Wednesday for the second half of Toyota’s session. Williams will continue its programme at the Spanish circuit until February 5.

Test session times: Barcelona 02/02/2003

1. C. Da Matta - Toyota TF103 - 1:17,182 - 56 laps

2. J. Villeneuve - BAR-Honda 005 - 1:18,043 - 39 laps

3. J. Button - BAR-Honda 005 - 1:18,139 - 54 laps

4. M. Gené - BMW Williams FW24 - 1:18,280 - 85 laps

5. R. Schumacher - BMW Williams FW25 - 1:19,800 - 52 laps.