It was a case of as you were on the final day of the first winter test of the 2008/09 Formula 1 'off' season around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso machines monopolising the top of the timesheets – and drivers whose name begins with the letters 'Seb' tending to perform rather well.
Sebastian Vettel picked up from where he had left off on day two, shaving almost a further half second off his best time aboard Red Bull's RB4 to lead the way and send out a warning signal that in 2009 he fully intends to add to his Italian Grand Prix success achieved with STR. The young German worked on a programme centred upon the evaluation of Bridgestone's new slick rubber, and ran with similar levels of downforce to those that can be expected next year.
“It was good to be back in a race car again, for the first time since Brazil,” the 21-year-old stated. “Running the 2009 slick tyres was very interesting, and very different to what Formula 1 has been used to for the past few years.
“It was also a useful couple of days for me from the point-of-view of getting to know the engineers and the rest of the team. It is important to develop a common understanding between us – and winter testing is the ideal opportunity to do just that.”
“This was a successful three days for us,” concurred the Milton Keynes-based concern's chief test engineer Ian Morgan, “and we completed all the high-priority items on our job list.
“As for Sebastian, he settled in very quickly and it actually felt as though he'd been with us for a long time already, which is a good sign! We now have plenty of data, particularly on the tyre front, which we will put to good use at the next test session, at the Jerez track next month.”
Right behind Vettel, as on Tuesday, were the cars of the team he has recently departed, Scuderia Toro Rosso. With Takuma Sato having completed his running on day two, however, only 2008 incumbent Sébastien Bourdais and GP2 Series star Sébastien Buemi remained, both giving a good account of themselves as they potentially battle it out for a seat at the small Faenza-based squad next year.
Bourdais was the quicker of the two namesakes by just over three tenths of a second, and though neither was able to get within half a second of Vettel, it was nevertheless another productive day's work, affirmed the Red Bull 'junior' outfit's chief engineer Laurent Mekies.
“There was a two-fold purpose to these three days,” the Frenchman explained, “firstly evaluating drivers for next year and secondly assessing the 2009 Bridgestone slick tyres, while running with the level of downforce we expect to have next season.