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Sato delighted with time-topping performance at Jerez

JAPANESE rookie Takuma Sato topped the times on the opening day of testing at Jerez on Monday as he made the perfect start to his new role as a British American Racing test driver.

Sato completed 63 laps of the Spanish circuit as he outpaced team-mate Olivier Panis to set a quickest lap time of one minute and 22.765 seconds.

"Today I could concentrate on the job in hand as there was pressure on me the last time I drove the car because it was part of the driver development program," Sato said.

"I enjoyed the test and working with the engineers and I learnt a lot and made improvements. Now I know what it is like in Formula One and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity in the car."

Frenchman Panis was almost a second slower than the young Japanese driver while Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer was third ahead of Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.

Italian Badoer was forced to switch to a second car mid-way through the day after an electro-hydraulic problem scuppered his session.

Times from Monday's testing at Jerez:

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIME
Takuma Sato BAR 1:22.765
Olivier Panis BAR 1:23.525
Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:23.923
Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1:25.457

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