A change of venue had little effect on the Brawn GP steamroller, as Rubens Barrichello motored to the fastest time of the day as Formula One testing continued apace in southern Spain.

The Brazilian - who, along with Brawn team-mate Jenson Button, enjoyed the rarefied air of top spot in the team's first test in Barcelona last week - headed the three-car Jerez field by nearly six-tenths as he completed 107 laps on another marathon day of development.

Barrichello posted a target of 1min 19.236secs during the course of set-up and tyre evaluations, punctuated by a number of race start simulations, as the Brackley-based outfit continued to play catch-up on its rivals.

The Brazilian will continue his running tomorrow morning before team-mate Button takes over in the afternoon session for the remaining day-and-a-half of the test.

''We had a good day of testing today, completing over a hundred laps of the Jerez circuit,'' the veteran confirmed, ''It is hotter in Jerez than it was in Barcelona last week and therefore more representative of the temperatures that we can expect for the first few races, so it is good preparation for myself and the car.

''The car ran very well once again and we are increasing our understanding of its characteristics every day.''

Only Renault and Williams ran alongside the rechristened team, with Fernando Alonso posting the second-best time to keep the Anglo-French outfit ahead of Nico Hulkenberg's FW31.

Alonso completed 40 laps in warm and sunny conditions, but had his running was cut short during the morning session when a trip through the gravel trap called for some repairs to the front end of the R29. The afternoon was more productive, however, as the Spaniard began the team's latest aero programme and completed some practice starts into the bargain.

"Unfortunately, I made a mistake this morning, which was a shame as we lost a lot of track time - but sometimes this happens in testing when you are looking for the limits of the car,'' the double world champion reasoned.

''This afternoon, the team put the car together as soon as possible and we tried to complete our main priorities for the day, which was testing some new parts on the car. In the end, we managed to do it and we were pleased with the results, although we certainly would have liked more laps. Tomorrow, we will try and recover some of the time we lost today."

Alonso will remain in the car for what will be his final day of running prior to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, when the focus will be set-up and preparing the car for Melbourne.

"We had a difficult start to the day, but the guys did a good job to get the car back out again for the afternoon,'' chief test engineer Christian Silk commented, ''What is important is not how many laps you do, but what you learn in them and we're quite happy with how things went. We had some new things to try out and the performance of the car was good so overall we achieved our priorities for the day."

Hulkenberg completed 69 laps on his latest outing with Williams, ending the day a further couple of tenths from the pace, after clocking 1min 20.015secs.

"Today marks the start of the last test before the new season starts,'' technical director Sam Michael said.

''Nico was driving for us and he spent the day working through aero component tests and mechanical set-up changes. No problems were
encountered during the session and the weather looks good for the whole four days we're here.''

Nico Rosberg takes over tomorrow.

Leading performances - Jerez (15 March):

Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1m 19.236s 107 lapsFernando Alonso Renault-Renault 1m 19.819s 40Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota 1m 20.015s 69

all times unofficial - courtesy of Renault



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