Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber blitzed the pack at Jerez today in Spain, as the latest F1 group test moved into its penultimate day.

Webber managed 115 laps in total and his best lap was a 1 minute 19.299 seconds, more than eight tenths up on his closest rival. Indeed the Aussie was the only runner to break the 1m 19s barrier - and it surpassed the previous best set by Lewis Hamilton at the 4.423 kilometre circuit last Saturday (a 1m 19.583s).

In contrast to Wednesday and Thursday, it remained dry and sunny today and while it was damp early on, by around 11 am most drivers could switch to dry tyres.

Speaking at the end of the day Webber was pleased, even if a small mechanical issue did cost him around two hours of running this afternoon.

"We're certainly showing some good form in terms of reliability, but we always need to work on performance; you never know that the other teams are doing," Webber stated. "We're in a good position at the moment to build up to the first race - it's close, but there's also quite a way to go, as other teams have no doubt planned developments for Bahrain. We're doing the work we need to do, in order to understand the car more."

"It's good to finally get some dry conditions and complete some proper runs on dry tyres, which we've done very little of with this car so far," added Red Bull's head of race engineering, Ian Morgan. "We did 115 laps today, which is pretty good. Things look promising."

Fernando Alonso meanwhile was second and 'best of the rest' for Ferrari. The Spaniard took over from Felipe Massa and in total did 132 tours, his quickest a 1m 20.115s. He spent the day working on set-up and comparing car and tyre behaviour in a variety of race situations.

Jenson Button was next up, and while he was quickest for much of the day, he slipped down to third on the unofficial timesheets during the afternoon.

"Jenson was able to spend the majority of the day pursuing a consistent path with mechanical set-up development, despite the presence in the afternoon of an increasingly blustery wind," McLaren stated in their end of day report.

"Jenson declared himself happy with the day's progress, and his engineers have been extremely pleased with the extent to which he has been able to establish himself within the team, and the depth and scope of his feedback. A few minor components will arrive overnight for evaluation tomorrow, but the main aim of the programme remains a continuation of today's set-up development work."

Further down the order Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher were fourth and fifth respectively, split by less than a few thousandths of a second - and both on 1m 21.4s laps.

Hulkenberg did 138 laps for Williams - the most of any one runner today, despite a mechanical problem late on: "Nico spent most of the morning doing pitstop practice with the race team before moving on to a race simulation. He then followed that up with a long run for set-up work. The cause of the problem which forced Nico to stop out on track towards the end of the session was hydraulic, but the part was high mileage," explained Williams technical director, Sam Michael. "Nico will spend the evening working on set-ups and will continue running tomorrow for our last day in Jerez."

In contrast to Hulkenberg, Schumacher had no issues, although he did around 60 laps less, ending the day having chalked up 79. The German focused on developing the set-up of the MGP W01 and evaluating various changes over longer runs.

"Today was a nice end to my testing days in Jerez this week and it was great to finally have some consistent dry running," said Schumacher. "We are on schedule with our programme but at the same time, we are well aware that there is still a lot of work ahead of us. The final test in Barcelona next week will be an important test in this respect and will give us valuable information about the performance of the car."

Robert Kubica rounded out the top six for Renault and like Schumacher was pretty pleased with the day's proceedings.

"In the morning it was damp so we just did an installation lap to check everything was working and waited for the track to dry," the Pole recalled. "The conditions were quite windy, which has a big influence on the car, but we were able to test quite a lot of things so I'm pretty pleased with the day."

"Finally the weather improved and we managed to complete a productive day of work," added Renault's chief engineer, Alan Permane. "Early on the track was still damp, but it dried out quite quickly and we got some useful set-up work done with Robert, which has taken us in a good direction. We also spent some time doing procedural work and practice starts with a heavy car. Robert also ran a couple of different dry tyre compounds to compare them, which was useful."

Force India's Adrian Sutil came in seventh with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari eighth and ninth.

"Today was our first proper shot at dry running this test and it went pretty well," Sutil reflected. "In the morning we did a few short runs and some set-up work and then in the afternoon moved on to longer runs and getting more information on the new tyres. At the end of the day we wanted to do a further run but unfortunately a red flag came out so we didn't do as many laps as we would have liked over the whole day.

"The tyres at the moment are quite difficult to handle as the soft compound grains up very quickly in the low temperatures. The mediums last a bit longer but still grain after 10 or 12 laps. There's no way to avoid it at the moment but I'm not too concerned as I am sure they will handle better in the higher temperatures we'll see in the races."

Kobayashi also had problems and an issue with the fuel system meant he did just 29 tours in his Sauber C29: "It was obviously not a perfect day, but I prefer to have a technical problem now rather than in the first race," he noted. "Although I could only complete a limited number of laps, we learned a few things on which we can build tomorrow."

"The conditions were good today, but unfortunately we weren't able to make the best use of them," added Sauber's test engineer, Thomas Hunsicker. "We lost a lot of time with a fuel system problem. However, the weather forecast is fine for tomorrow, so we should still be able to complete the main part of our planned programme for this test."

Of the rest F1 2010 newcomers, Virgin and Lotus brought up the rear, both around a second off Alguersuari. Furthermore while Lucas di Grassi just edged out Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn did do more laps, 68 to the 34 of his rival.

"A reasonably good day today and the best thing was getting our first dry running in," said Lotus technical chief, Mike Gascoyne. "We had a small problem this morning with a clutch sensor but as we wanted to wait until conditions had dried up that suited us well. We concentrated on long runs and started to work with the two tyre types, which we obviously haven't been able to do before, so overall good progress."

The Jerez F1 test now concludes on Saturday and most teams stick with the same drivers, so the likes of Webber, Alonso, Button, Kubica and Kobayashi all remain. The main exceptions are at Mercedes, where Nico Rosberg comes in, as well as at Force India (who bring in Vitantonio Liuzzi) and at Lotus (who draft in Jarno Trulli).

To see the Jerez day three times CLICK HERE.


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