In arguably his best performance since first returning to F1 at a Silverstone test earlier this year, Sauber’s Jacques Villeneuve set the fastest time at a slippery Jerez test session on Thursday.

In arguably his best performance since first returning to F1 at a Silverstone test earlier this year, Sauber’s Jacques Villeneuve set the fastest time at a slippery Jerez test session on Thursday.


It was the second successive day that the Hinwil-based team set the pace at Jerez de la Frontera. The Swiss team switched drivers from Felipe Massa to Jacques Villeneuve and the Canadian continued to evaluate Sauber’s new supply of Michelin tyres.

Villeneuve's best time of 1:22,061s was 0,4 seconds clear of Nick Heidfeld, who is looking to get the nod from Williams-BMW to line up alongside Mark Webber for the Grove-based team next year. Heidfeld’s rival for the Williams spot, Antonio Pizzonia, managed the day's fifth fastest time - almost a full second behind the German.


The day started with a wet track. There was a dry spell, but then rain fell again late in the afternoon. Ferrari’s Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, Red Bull Racing hopeful Vitantonio Liuzzi, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Franck Montagny, Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher, Jordan Cosworth’s Robert Doornbos, and BAR Honda’s Enrique Bernoldi all made mistakes on the slippery Jerez circuit.


The two Red Bulls continued to charge, with Liuzzi getting the better of Christian Klien by half a second.


Takuma Sato finished the day sixth fastest ahead of Fisichella, McLaren-Mercedes’ Alex Wurz and Montagny. Alan van der Merwe, who has built a reputation as a wet-weather specialist, continued his BAR trial and finished tenth ahead of Schumacher, Badoer and Gené.


Pedro de la Rosa finished fourteenth in the second McLaren while Doornbos was fifteenth in the Jordan Cosworth.


Jerez timesheet December 2

1. Jacques Villeneuve - Sauber Petronas – 1:22,061 - 74 laps

2. Nick Heidfeld - Williams BMW – 1:22,430 - 96 laps

3. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Red Bull Cosworth – 1:22,631 - 88 laps

4. Christian Klien - Red Bull Cosworth – 1:23,124 - 35 laps

5. Antonio Pizzonia - Williams BMW – 1:23,382 - 48 laps

6. Takuma Sato - BAR Honda – 1:24,115 - 44 laps

7. Giancarlo Fisichella - Renault – 1:24,525 - 42 laps

8. Alex Wurz - McLaren Mercedes – 1:24,700 - 48 laps

9. Franck Montagny - Renault – 1:24,774 - 41 laps

10. Alan Van Der Merwe - BAR Honda – 1:25,446 - 36 laps

11. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota – 1:26,200 - 54 laps

12. Luca Badoer - Ferrari – 1:27,553 - 61 laps

13. Marc Gene - Ferrari – 1:28,929 - 37 laps

14. Pedro de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes – 1:29,697 - 23 laps

15. Robert Doornbos - Jordan Cosworth – 1:32,211 - 10 laps

16. James Rossiter - BAR Honda – 1:33,474 - 34 laps

17. Enrique Bernoldi - BAR Honda – 1:33,493 - 46 laps