Toyota’s Olivier Panis and Renault driver Fernando Alonso duelled for the top spot on the timesheets at Barcelona on Tuesday as both drivers aimed to find the optimum qualifying setup.

Toyota’s Olivier Panis and Renault driver Fernando Alonso duelled for the top spot on the timesheets at Barcelona on Tuesday as both drivers aimed to find the optimum qualifying setup.

Panis completed 50 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, and finally pipped Alonso by 0,435s to set the fastest time of the day. The Frenchman concentrated on tyre and engine development.

He also did some low-fuel runs, in preparation for the new Friday one-lap qualifying sessions.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the time I did," said Panis. "This was the first time I did a run on light fuel with this car and it's nice to know that the car goes quickly."

Alonso set the pace for most of the day and was beaten by Panis with less than 15 minutes of the session remaining. The Spaniard piloted the R23 with a new aero-package and focused on chassis set-ups in preparation for Australian Grand Prix on March 9.

"The car is very good and the balance is excellent. We knew from the numbers that the car would be very quick, and it's nice to know that it is,” the Spaniard was quoted as saying.

In contrast, several drivers ran into problems during the day. BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve's gearbox broke on his second lap , keeping the Canadian out of action late in the day, and Alonso’s team-mate, Jarno Trulli, was limited to just 12 laps with electrical problems.

Jordan Ford’s new signing, Briton Ralph Firman, had his first crash in a F1 car towards the end of the morning session, damaging the front wing, right and left front suspension and the car's barge boards. He was unable to get back on the track for the rest of the day.

Test session: Barcelona February 18

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tyres Time Laps

1 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m15,508s 50

2 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m15,943s 50

3 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Ford B 1m17,071s 56

4 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17,712s 56

5 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m17,765s 42

6 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m18,377s 53

7 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m18,889s 41

8 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m19,170s 53

9 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m19,718s 11

10 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m20,348s 12

11 Ralph Firman Jordan-Ford B 1m20,593s 48

12 Allan McNich Renault M 1m21,860s 43

Original article from Car