Sebastien Buemi kept Scuderia Toro Rosso at the top of the times for the third day in a row at Portimao on Wednesday, as the wet weather that had plagued proceedings finally abated.

Buemi, who was once again the only man running in a 2008-spec car, managed 128 laps in total, with STR cancelling its lunch break to get in as much dry weather running as possible.

The track remained damp in the morning, but from around mid-day it was possible to fit slick tyres and Buemi made the most of it to begin 'serious work', concentrating mainly on suspension systems. His best lap for the day was a 1 minute 27.987 seconds.

Nico Rosberg meanwhile was 'best of the rest' and the fastest of those in the 2009 cars. His quickest effort was a 1m 29.729s and he did 143 tours in total - easily the most of any one runner - while focusing on initial systems, performance and reliability checks.

"We had a wet track for the first couple of hours in Portimao today, but by late morning it had dried out enabling us to run slick tyres on the FW31 for the first time," explained Williams F1 technical director, Sam Michael.

"It was a constructive day as we worked through a lot of the items on our job list, including systems checks, aerodynamic and mechanical performance tests. The FW31 reliably completed just over 670kms today on only its third day on track. Kazuki [Nakajima] will take over from Nico for the last day of testing tomorrow and for his first run in the new car."

Lewis Hamilton was next up for McLaren, around half a second off Rosberg's Williams, and getting his first taste of the new MP4-24.

Like the other runners, the Brit benefitted from the improved weather conditions and this allowed McLaren to fix the 09-spec rear wing in the afternoon, when he set his best lap, a 1m 30.242s.

"It was good to be back working with the team," said the reigning champion, "it felt like I'd hardly been away because it was easy to slip back into the routine. It's amazing to think that, while I've been to Woking throughout the winter, I haven't properly driven a Formula 1 car since the Brazilian Grand Prix two months ago, but everything very quickly felt normal today.

"This first test was all about just getting used to the new car and the new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers; it wasn't about setting a fast time. I'm pleased to report that the car feels good, we've made lots of progress over the winter and I'm looking forward to developing the car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix."

Of the rest, Timo Glock came in fourth, but his running was curtailed slightly by a small fire, which stopped his car on track just after 11 am local time. This necessitated lengthy repairs and as a result he managed only 64 laps.

Despite this however, he was pleased with his first go in the new Toyota TF109: "My first impression of the new car is good; I am happy with it," he confirmed. "In the morning, on a wet track, I felt pretty comfortable and it was easy to drive; there were no real problems.

"Then we had the issue with the oil pipe which cost us some time but the guys worked really hard to repair the car and we got some laps at the end in dry conditions. Those first laps on a dry track felt pretty good and gave me a positive feeling but we didn't have time to really set the car up properly. It would be nice to do a lot more laps tomorrow but the weather forecast isn't very good."

"We had no rain thankfully today but still this morning the track was wet and the temperatures were quite low," added Toyota's senior chassis general manager, Pascal Vasselon. "Due to the limited running we did on the first two days, we had a really busy programme planned for Timo, including set-up investigations, some brake work and preliminary tests on the movable front wing.

"We were making great progress in the first hours but unfortunately an oil pipe became disconnected and Timo had to stop on track with the car on fire. It took quite a bit of time to clean and repair the car but we managed to complete some laps later in the afternoon and got some interesting data."

The only other runner on track was Fernando Alonso, who took over from Nelson Piquet Jr. The Spaniard used the day to acclimatise himself to the new Renault and continue with the outfit's development programme.

"It is very early days with the new car and so we keep discovering things and improving our understanding with every lap," he noted. "There are so many things to learn in a short time and we need to maximise our time on track, so to do so many laps today was a good effort. The programme for tomorrow will be more of the same and hopefully the weather will remain dry."

"It was a better day today and the car ran very well," added Renault's chief test engineer, Christian Silk. "It was also a busy day as we tried to make up for the time lost to the poor weather earlier in the week and we managed to get a lot of items for the test ticked off. So we have a lot of good information which we will go through tonight and pick out the details from so we can make the most of the final day tomorrow."

Testing now concludes on Thursday.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment