The BAR Honda 006 had an impressive first outing at Barcelona on Monday when Jenson Button beat his own lap record, set in the hybrid car last month, with the team's 2004 challenger.

The BAR Honda 006 had an impressive first outing at Barcelona on Monday when Jenson Button beat his own lap record, set in the hybrid car last month, with the team's 2004 challenger.


The Briton demolished the unofficial lap record at Barcelona on the first full day of testing. His quickest lap of 1m 13,867s was nearly a second clear of the previous best time and a second and a half quicker Marc Gene's best effort in the Williams-BMW FW26.


CARtoday.com reported on Monday that following the launch of the BAR 006 at the weekend, the team's chief designer, Geoff Willis, declared the car's new carbon gearbox "the best of its kind in F1" and that he had been "more innovative with the thinking behind its 2004 car".


According to , Button set his time on a one-lap, low fuel qualifying-style run, but the performance of the 006 indicated BAR could provide a challenge to the top three teams in 2004 - at the least more than was the case last year.


Button praised the stability of his new car, with which the team has targeted regular podium finishes throughout 2004: "It was a good lap, but there's a lot more to come".


Alongside BAR, four other teams are testing at Barcelona today. Williams, McLaren and Sauber are all running their new cars, while Ferrari is fielding tester Luca Badoer in an F2003-GA.


Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher further lowered the lap record around Ferrari's private Italian test track, Fiorano, at the wheel of the new F2004 on Monday.


On the final day of testing for the new machine, Schumacher completed 115 laps, including a new record time of 55,9 seconds. This eclipsed the previous record of 56.279s, which Schumacher had set in the F2004 on its debut run on Friday.


"I am satisfied with this session," said the German. "I immediately got a positive feel from the car, but more importantly we managed to cover about 700 kilometres without a problem."