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No third car for battlers
2 March 2005
1 - FIRST
Copyright 2005 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved
TWO battling Formula One teams will face an even tougher test at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Sauber and Minardi won't run a third car for the valuable Friday testing session, limiting their race preparation.
Rule changes mean that all F1 teams except the top four of 2004 -- Ferrari, BAR-Honda, Renault and Williams -- will use a third car and test driver to do as many laps as possible, while the lead drivers look after their engines.
With race engines now having to last two race meetings, teams will try not to overuse them.
That means the test drivers will have a more important role, because it will be their responsibility to find the right settings and best tyre compound.
But Sauber and Minardi will miss out because they don't have the budget to run a third car.
Minardi had planned to run a third car for practice at Albert Park, but test driver Nicolas Kiesa is yet to finalise a sponsorship deal needed to put the car on the track.
Minardi owner Paul Stoddart said the team planned to run a third car, with Kiesa in the cockpit, at the next round in Malaysia.
The most high-profile team allowed to run a third car this season is McLaren and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa has been given the job of collecting data for teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Brazilian Ricardo Zonta will be the third driver for Toyota, while Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi will test for Red Bull Racing.
Thanks to a cash injection from Jordan's new owners, the team will be able to run a third car with Dutchman Robert Doornboss at the wheel.
The new rules on the third driver were designed to give the rest of the field an advantage.
BAR-Honda, which was able to run a third driver last season, will not be able to this year. That is something that could make a difference, if only slight, BAR driver Takuma Sato says.
"In the Friday tyre testing situation the third guy is very helpful. He can run and run and run to see the tyre degradation," Sato said.
"And he can do the performance run to see how much faster we can go, because on Friday Jenson (Button) and I have to save the engine."