Kimi Raikkonen ensured that Ferrari remained at the top of the time-sheets at Spa as the first Formula 1 test at the remodelled Belgian circuit drew to a close.

With changes to the Bus Stop section of the famous Ardennes circuit having been implemented ahead of the return of the Belgian Grand Prix later this year, the test gave the teams the chance to get to grips with the new look layout, with Raikkonen ensuring that Ferrari continued to lead the way as he outpace the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica.

Taking over from Felipe Massa, who had completed the first two days of the test, Raikkonen continued with the programme put in place by the Scuderia, which centred mainly on finding the best set-up for the car and the development of new components. His best time of 1min 47.042secs was the slowest one to have led a day during the three days of running, but still enabled him to end up two tenths of a second clear of Kubica, who bounced back from the gearbox problem that had hampered him on Wednesday - although the Pole did encounter some technical problems late on the final day.

Despite the continued mixed weather conditions at Spa, Fernando Alonso was able to complete another 75 laps for McLaren in third place - despite the Spaniard undergoing a planned engine change at lunchtime to replace the powerplant used for the first two days of running. The Spaniard was able to complete suspension checks, both specific to the Belgian race and the four Grands Prix building up to the event at Spa, during the course of the day and would end up four tenths of a second behind Kubica.

Encouragingly for Red Bull, Mark Webber was fourth quickest as he took to the track for the only time this week, although the day was far from straightforward for the Aussie who suffered a spin on the damp track during the morning - before an oil cooler problem forced him to finish his running just under an hour early.

"The weather and a couple of mechanical bothers meant that overall, we did not cover the sort of mileage we had been hoping for over the three days," chief test engineer Ian Morgan said. "However, on the positive side, we have learnt a lot about a track we had not visited for a while, we completed our tyre comparison programme, as well as trying Bridgestone's rain tyres and we also signed off some new aero and mechanical components for use at next week's European GP."

Behind Webber, Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth for Renault as he continued the work started by Nelson Piquet and Heikki Kovalainen earlier in the week, with chief test engineer happy with how the day had panned out.

"We finished the Spa test with a good day's work," he said. "The track was wet this morning and we waited a little before beginning our programme; after that we had a dry circuit which was a great help. Our three drivers have tested the car over the three days and they all say they're happy with its handling. They found it well balanced, predictable and I think that's very positive.

"This test's been pretty encouraging. We were not able to complete our programme because of the weather but we were prepared for this and we got through the main items. We now have a lot of date to analyse to be ready for the German Grand Prix."

Alex Wurz was sixth quickest for Williams despite a small technical problem sidelining him for part of the day while Jarno Trulli was seventh for Toyota - the Italian completing a programme that included set-up for the Belgian Grand Prix along with suspension, aerodynamics work and practice starts.

"Spa is a unique track so the testing we have done this week has been focused firmly on the race here in September," general chassis manager Pascal Vasselon admitted. "The unsettled weather has been representative of the range of conditions that we could face during the race weekend itself. So we have been very careful to collect data in every single type of weather that we have seen in the last three days. We have also had a wide range of developments to test on the car from suspension to new aero parts. Overall everything has gone well and Jarno and Ralf felt comfortable and quick in the car so they should be well prepared for the Belgian Grand Prix."

Champ Car title holder Sebastien Bourdais ended his latest outing for Toro Rosso witht eh eighth quickest time ahead of Takuma Sato, with Rubens Barrichello and Christian Klien rounding out the eleven drivers in action - the latter completing his first run for Spyker as he seeks to secure the seat now vacant following the departure of Christian Albers.

Testing times (12 July) - Spa:

1. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 47.042s 69 laps
2. Robert Kubica BMW-Sauber 1m 47.265s 78 laps
3. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1m 47.645s 75 laps
4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m 47.699s 44 laps
5. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault-Renault 1m 47.724s 76 laps
6. Alex Wurz Williams-Toyota 1m 48.437s 76 laps
7. Jarno Trulli Toyota-Toyota 1m 48.491s 76 laps
8. Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 48.585s 91 laps
9. Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1m 48.610s 99 laps
10. Rubens Barrichello Honda-Honda 1m 48.704s 81 laps
11. Christian Klien Spyker-Ferrari 1m 49.119s 63 laps

All times unofficial - courtesy of McLaren-Mercedes

Track/weather conditions: Changeable all day: Track temperature, 33.9?C / Ambient
temperature, 18.1?C.

 

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