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Bourdais top on return but Renault trails again

He may not have been in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car since before Christmas, but Sébastien Bourdais failed to let that hold him back as he celebrated his return to action by comfortably topping the testing times on day three of four at Jerez de la Frontera.

Building on the progress made by young rookie team-mate Sébastien Buemi over the first couple of days, the Frenchman completed 126 laps of the southern Spanish circuit in warm and sunny conditions, comparing Bridgestone's medium and soft compound tyres as well as looking at set-up and front suspension options on his Scuderia Toro Rosso, the only 2008 car present at the test.

The record-breaking former multiple Champ Car king also conducted an ongoing reliability validation of the Ferrari engine, which should complete its cycle on the final day, again with Bourdais at the wheel.

The 29-year-old ended up more than two seconds clear of second-placed Lewis Hamilton, the defending F1 World Champion concentrating on aero mapping and finding a good balance on the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 in the morning running before settling into a series of long runs later on. The 24-year-old reported an extremely productive day, during which the hugely-successful Woking-based outfit was able to continue its work on its KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) programme.

“Today's test gave me the first opportunity to drive MP4-24 in warm, dry conditions,” Hamilton remarked at the close of play, “and I'm very encouraged by what I felt. The car feels strong, very similar to last year's car in fact.

“It doesn't take long to get used to the new buttons in the cockpit (KERS & front wing flaps), but the real test for everyone now is to understand the slick tyres ahead of the first race in Melbourne next month.”

A scant thousandth of a second behind the British star on the end-of-day timesheets was Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing, with a long run early on countered by some bodywork damage that took the energy drinks-backed squad a couple of hours to fix.

After that, however, a very fruitful afternoon enabled the team to make up for lost time and get through its job list for the day, including aero testing and work on mechanical set-up. Mark Webber will take over for the final day on Friday.

Fourth-fastest, with 92 laps on the clock, was Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, who again looked at set-up optimisation work, tyre testing, reliability and systems checks, to the encouragement of technical director Sam Michael.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Bourdais (FRA), Toro Rosso STRO3, Chinese F1 Grand Prix, Shanghai, 17th-19th October 2008
Sebastien Bourdais (FRA), Toro Rosso STRO3, Hungarian F1, Hungaroring, 1st-3rd, August, 2008
McLaren, 2011 launch, [Credit: Crash PA]
Williams, FW40, teaser shot [Credit: Williams Martini Racing]
Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher and the 1996 Ferrari F310
Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 to be unveiled on Feb 26th
Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso - Mercedes, McLaren
Sebastian Vettel, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, ROC [Credit: ROC]
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates after winning the 2017 Race of Champions title in Miami [Pic credit: ROC]
Race of Champions 2017, action [Pic credit: ROC]
Juan Pablo Monotya. Race of Champions 2017, action [Pic credit: ROC]
2017 Race of Champions line-up in Miami [Pic credit: ROC]
George Russell, Mercedes junior programme, [Credit: Mercedes]
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas

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Don - Unregistered

February 12, 2009 9:32 PM

Interesting how much quicker last years F1 cars are over the ugly new ones. I would love to see all the F1 drivers get in the Champ Car's that are sitting around collecting dust, and really see who is the fastest DRIVER. I think Seb would do quite well if the machinery were equal. He had more than his fair share of bad luck last year. Here's to a great year Seb!

Jan Pulenski - Unregistered

February 13, 2009 1:22 AM

The jury is still out on SB. I would not count my chickens before they hatch - that means this is testing, and we don't know what set up he was running and why he was 2 seconds clear of lulu's times. One thing is for sure he needs to step it up this year to keep his seat. Kubica #1 driver lulu is just another pretty boy and chicks like Hannah dig it. :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :? :?

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