Sebastien Bourdais topped the times for Toro Rosso on the final day of Formula One testing at Jerez, but Lewis Hamilton and McLaren emerged as the quickest combination running 2009-spec machinery at the Spanish venue.
In what was the final test for the STR3, Bourdais was comfortably quickest as the Frenchman posted a time of 1min 17.472secs, some two seconds clear of Hamilton's McLaren.
Bourdais ran through a programme which included a series of qualifying simulations on different compounds of Bridgestone rubber and evaluation of both front and rear suspension on the car. Work on the engine was also carried out and although a small mechanical issue ended his running an hour early, Bourdais was able to complete the programme in place for the final day with the car.
"It's been a while since I've driven and it's good to get back in the groove," he said. "We are just continuing to evaluate tyres and understand how the slicks are working, as well as trying a few things on the geometry of the car. All in all, a useful working session."
Hamilton continued to run with a hybrid-spec 2008 rear wing fitted to the MP4-24 and continued to work through the programme the team had put in place for the four days of running, with his time on track focused on finalising the balance of the car and carrying out set-up work on slick tyres. Hamilton also carried out further work on the team's KERS system, which ran without problems during the test.
Fernando Alonso was two-tenths of a second further back on a more encouraging day for Renault with the new R29. The Spaniard completed more than 100 laps to put more mileage on the car, while working on the KERS system and the evaluation of more development parts. Having completed a series of shorter runs in the morning, he was able to complete several longer stints on track during the afternoon while also carrying out set-up work.
“After doing so many laps with the car yesterday, we concentrated more on set-up work today to get a better understanding of the car and make it easier to drive,” he said. “Overall, we have to be very happy as we managed to do lots of laps and the car responded well to the set-up changes we made, so I think we've found some good solutions. Everyday the drivability of the car is improving and although we still have a lot of work to do before the start of the season, we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
Nico Rosberg was a second and a half further back in fourth place for Williams while Mark Webber was fifth for Red Bull Racing as he continued with his recovery from the injuries sustained in his cycling accident prior to Christmas.
Having lost track time in the morning due to mechanical issues, he enjoyed a trouble-free afternoon carrying out tyre comparison work and also evaluating set-up and suspension changes.
"Apart from a few minor niggles, which are to be expected with a brand new car, this first test has produced pleasing results," head of race engineering Ian Morgan said. "RB5 proved to be generally reliable and its performance seems encouraging straight out of the box."
Kazuki Nakajima completed the six drivers to take to the track, although he failed to log a time.
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