The new Brawn GP team concluded its preparations for the 2009 Formula One season with another day on top of the times at Jerez after Jenson Button posted the quickest time on day three of the Spanish session.
Button completed more than 100 laps after his running was curtailed on Monday and posted a quickest time of 1min 17.844secs, putting him two-tenths of a second clear of Williams' Nico Rosberg.
Button and the team spent the day working on chassis set-up evaluations and performance development of the new BGP001 and the Briton declared himself happy with how the second test for the car had panned out.
“We have had a very useful test in Jerez this week, particularly today where we have been able to fine-tune the set-up of the car to my liking ahead of the first race,” he said. “Even after such a short testing programme, I feel that we are ready for the challenge ahead in Melbourne, however we will still need every minute of the Friday practice sessions to make the most of our first race weekend.”
Rosberg's second quickest time for Williams came despite an off during the afternoon which forced the Grove-outfit to bring its programme to an early end. Rosberg had been working through final preparations of the FW31 for the new season with his focus on set-up tuning, aero work, reliability checks and tyre testing. However, the incident meant he was the only driver to complete fewer than 100 laps over the course of the day.
“Today, we worked on our race starts process and mechanical set-ups with Nico,” Williams technical chief Sam Michael said. “We then moved onto long runs in order to evaluate different aero parts. Unfortunately, Nico had an off this afternoon so preparations to turn the car around for Kazuki's arrival tomorrow started slightly earlier than scheduled.”
Nelson Piquet was third quickest for Renault as the regie
concluded its pre-season preparations ahead of the opening round of the new season in a matter of weeks. The young Brazilian took over at the wheel of the R29 from Fernando Alonso and worked through a busy programme which was focused on aerodynamic work on the car and a series of practice starts. Over the course of the day, Piquet turned out to the busiest driver on track with more than 130 laps as the team made the most of the warm weather conditions to put plenty more miles on the car.
“My final day of testing went really well and I'm pleased that we were able to do so many laps,” he said. “We were looking at the car's aero performance today as well as doing some set-up work in preparation for the first race and overall we found a good balance with the car.”
Lewis Hamilton completed his second day of running for McLaren but found himself at the bottom of the times, eight-tenths of a second behind Piquet.
On a busy day for the defending champion, the Mercedes-powered team was able to work on refining the MP4-24 with the work building on the programme that started on Monday as the team evaluated a series of small aerodynamic changes to the bodywork.
Testing continues tomorrow.
Leading performances - Jerez (17 March):
1. Jenson Button
Brawn GP-Mercedes 1min 17.844secs
2. Nico Rosberg
Williams-Toyota 1min 18.071secs
3. Nelson Piquet
Renault 1min 18.382secs
4. Lewis Hamilton
McLaren-Mercedes 1min 19.121secs
Sunny throughout but with a moody, blustery wind. Maximum track temperature 37.2°C; maximum ambient temp 20.9°C.
all times unofficial – courtesy of Renault F1