Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel topped the times on Friday at Jerez as the final F1 test session of the year drew to a close.

Vettel, who completed 100 laps in total, set his best time in the afternoon, while evaluating the 2009 spec Bridgestone slick tyres. His quickest effort, a 1 minute 18.213 second lap, was the fastest of the week. He was also quick in the morning too though, when he was concentrating on rear suspension work and when he posted a 1m 18.7s lap.

Sebastien Bourdais meanwhile was on track in the sister STR-02, but he spent all day on the grooved tyres. His best was a 1m 20.033s, which left him ninth on the timesheets. The ex-Champ Car man focused on evaluating dampers in the morning and then assessing different mechanical set-ups in the afternoon.

"This has been a very productive test, the longest of the year for us, with two cars running for four days," commented STR chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. "During that time there were no driver errors, we completed a high mileage - a total of 577 laps, equivalent to 2552 kilometres - and made good progress with the 2008 systems."

Robert Kubica, who was fastest on day 3, was 'best of the rest' for BMW Sauber. The Pole, who celebrated his 23rd birthday today, did 119 laps in total, the most of any one runner. Like Vettel he used the slick tyres, as well as doing set-up work for the 2008 electronics and some development on the mechanical side.

Williams' Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima came in third and fifth respectively, split by around eight tenths of a second.

Nakajima was happy with his running this week: "It was a good test for us as we tried out many different set-up options," he noted. "The mileage I've covered this week has given me more valuable time in the car in preparation for next year so I am happy."

Williams test team manager, Dickie Stanford was also pleased: "Today was our last day of testing of the year," he added. "Between them, Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Hulkenberg managed to complete all the development work on our agenda over the four days and covered 2,085kms. We also had a successful first outing on the slick tyres today. Everyone on the test team has done a great job this year and we thank them for all their hard work over the season."

Sandwiched between the two FW29's was multiple world champion Michael Schumacher, who was four tenths off Rosberg in the Ferrari F2007. Schumacher focused on the development of new electronic components, as well as carrying out tyre testing aimed at 2009.

After that Toyota's Timo Glock was sixth, with Felipe Massa seventh, Bourdais eighth and Jarno Trulli ninth in the other TF107.

Both Glock and Trulli ran with the slick tyres and Jarno also had stints with reduced downforce in preparation for the 2009 regulation changes. In addition, Timo continued work on aerodynamic and mechanical set-up while Jarno gathered more information on the standard ECU.

"We tried to achieve many things today so it was quite busy for me," said Trulli, who did 69 laps in total. "I used the new slick tyres and they gave a lot more grip and were pretty consistent. We also tried the tyres with 2009 levels of downforce which was quite different and a bit tricky.

"It was not easy to understand everything because we tried so many different things during the day. We collected a lot of data and now we must study that and figure out the solution.

"We tried to do as many laps as possible, which was our main target in order to put mileage on the new rear end and 2008 ECU."

"That was a successful day," summed up Toyota's chief race and test engineer, Dieter Gass, "and we completed the programme without any issues. We have used up our entire annual allocation of kilometres and Bridgestone Potenza tyres so we can be pleased with that. It was interesting to see Jarno driving on slick tyres today. He is one of the few drivers here this week to have previous experience of Formula 1 slick tyres and his feedback has been very helpful. We have been looking ahead to 2009 more today with the slick tyres and reduced downforce levels and we can be pleased with our progress.

"Timo has once again given good input into set-up development, including using the slick tyres again. It has been a pleasure having him in the car this week and he has made a strong contribution already to our development."

Of the rest, David Coulthard rounded out the top ten, the sole Red Bull Racing car on track. Although he lost a bit of time with a technical problem, the Scot still did 72 tours, concentrating exclusively on developing the 2008 electronic systems on the car.

"In general, this four day session has been very productive," commented RBR's chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. "We have been moving in the right direction in terms of working with the 2008 electronics and it is an encouraging way to end the year. Now, the test team is looking forward to getting its hands on the new car."

Anthony Davidson was just outside the top ten, and he was running for Honda today, in order to provide a further perspective on the 2009 slick tyres. He managed 102 laps over the day.

Just behind the Brit was his Super Aguri team-mate, Takuma Sato, while Marko Asmer was 13th. Asmer took over from Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber F1.07 on Friday and focused mainly on set-up work, doing 80 laps in total, his best a 1m 21.333s.

At the rear was the Force India cars' of Giedo van der Garde and Roldan Rodriquez, both around a second further back. Despite being at the wrong end of the unofficial times though on the final two days, Force India's chairman and managing director, Vijay Mallya reckoned it had been a 'fruitful test'.

"Not only have we demonstrated the strong potential of the team by attracting five highly talented drivers to test for us, it's also been very motivating for the team to have the benefit of their experience to help develop the car," he explained.

"This week has had a very positive impact on the motivation of the mechanics, engineers and all involved and has shown the sporting community that we are serious about what Force India wants to achieve in Formula 1.

"Thank you to all the drivers who contributed so much and to the hard work of the team for making it such a productive event. It's just the start of many interesting projects for this team."

F1 testing will now resume in January.

 

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