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Jerez day three - De la Rosa sets the standard 15 Dec 2006

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, 14 December 2006. World © Patching/Sutton. Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams Toyota Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain. 14 December 2006. World © Bumstead/Sutton. Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF106 Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain. 14 December 2006. World © Bumstead/Sutton. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 248 F1 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, 14 December 2006. World © Patching/Sutton. James Rossiter (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Test Driver chats to a mechanic. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, 14 December 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton.

McLaren’s Pedro De la Rosa topped the timesheets in Jerez on Thursday, clocking a lap of 1m 19.107s. De la Rosa was over three-tenths quicker than Jarno Trulli, who jumped up the order for Toyota to finish ahead of Honda’s James Rossiter.

The McLaren tester was joined by Lewis Hamilton, who finished fourth fastest in the second car. Both men continued testing the team’s new Bridgestone tyres, as well as evaluating a new suspension package. Although Hamilton had a slight pneumatic problem in his engine during the morning, he managed to complete most of his scheduled programme.

Toyota, meanwhile, wrapped up their final day at the Spanish circuit by fielding three drivers. Trulli was joined in the morning by Toyota tester Olivier Panis, 11th, who made his last appearance for the team before his retirement from Formula One racing. Despite suffering from a cold, Panis completed 27 laps before being replaced by Toyota young driver, Kohei Hirate, who finished 16th.

“Jarno was able to do a lot of running which was quite productive, and he set several very competitive lap times as well,” explained Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general manager for chassis. “He had to stop at the end of the session with a hydraulic issue but it was so late in the day it did not really alter our programme. Unfortunately for Olivier he had a slight delay this morning when a part inside the fuel tank had to be repaired and then we decided to put Kohei in the car as Olivier was suffering from a cold.”

Rossiter was the leading Honda driver in third. Both he and Christian Klien, fifth, spent the day completing several long tyre runs and evaluating chassis set-up work. Klien will be replaced by 19 year-old IndyCar driver Marco Andretti, who is set to make his Formula One debut on Friday.

Just three hundredths of a second split the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer in sixth and seventh. Both continued to adapt the cars to Bridgestone's new tyres, as well as evaluating the team’s new gearbox. Marc Gene will take over from Massa on Friday.

Renault had both Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella in action for a second, trouble-free, session on Thursday. The pair covered 215 laps, whilst testing the new 2007 gearbox and finished in eight and 10th respectively.

Splitting the two Renaults in ninth was Nick Heidfeld for BMW Sauber. Heidfeld was joined by fellow race driver Robert Kubica, 11th, in the second car. Both spent the morning on set-up work, before completing longer runs.

Thirteenth in the times was Kazuki Nakajima, Williams test driver. “Kazuki continued testing and enjoyed another successful day,” explained Mike Condliffe, Williams’ test team manager. “We tried several set-up changes during the morning session as Kazuki got to know the car better, as well as some systems checks for Toyota in the afternoon runs. Kazuki has made a very good start to his testing duties at Williams and has already provided good technical feedback.”

Takuma Sato, meanwhile, was 14th quickest for Super Aguri. Sato was just over one hundredth of a second quicker than the solitary Red Bull of Michael Ammermuller. The Toro Rossos of Vitantonio Liuzzi (17th), Scott Speed (18th) and Sebastien Bourdais (19th), completed the Thursday line-up.

Testing continues in Jerez on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:19.107
2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:19.480
3. James Rossiter, Honda, 1:19.535
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.588
5. Christian Klien, Honda, 1:19.665
6. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:19.732
7. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:19.763
8. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:19.810
9. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.944
10. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 1:20.068
11. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:20.204
12. Olivier Panis, Toyota, 1:20.400
13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.443
14. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, 1:20.726
15. Michael Ammermuller, Red Bull, 1:20.737
16. Kohei Hirate, Toyota, 1:20.970
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:21.506
18. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:21.514
19. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.520