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Barcelona day four - Alonso ends on top 27 Feb 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R26 makes a pitstop. Formula 1 Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 21-24 February 2006. World ©  Capilitan/Sutton

Barcelona testing drew to a close on Friday with world champion Fernando Alonso sitting on top of the timesheets. Once again, Honda were Renault’s closest rivals, though Christian Klien also put Red Bull right on the pace.

Alonso and Renault team mate Giancarlo Fisichella spent the day practising pit stops and 2006-style qualifying. Both men ran close to 100 laps, with Fisichella finishing half a second down on Alonso in third.

"This was a very important week in terms of the results we obtained,” said Christian Silk, Renault’s chief test engineer. “Once again, the cars ran extremely well without any major technical incidents, and the drivers are pleased with the car's performance. The entire race team was present today for pit-stop practice, which was an important step and went without a hitch.”

Honda’s Rubens Barrichello split the two Renaults, the Brazilian again focussing on chassis set-up and aero evaluation in the RA106. He was joined by test driver Anthony Davidson, who took over from Jenson Button to complete a long-run tyre programme. Davidson was fifth fastest.

In an impressive fourth place was Klien in the Red Bull RB2. The Austrian spent the morning carrying out a qualifying simulation. He then moved on to a race simulation, but this was quickly cut short by engine problems. Team mate David Coulthard had problems of another kind - a trapped nerve in his back meant the Scot had to pull out after just four laps, leaving it to third driver Robert Doornbos to perform practice pit stops.

Williams ended their week at the Circuit de Catalunya with Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz in sixth and tenth place respectively. “Nico worked on tyre testing for Bridgestone, focusing on their different compounds,” explained technical director Sam Michael. “Meanwhile, Alex concentrated on long runs to investigate various mechanical set-ups and brake cooling. We tested some new aerodynamic parts for the FW28 this week and confirmed they are all working as expected.”

Toyota completed the Friday line-up, with Jarno Trulli seventh and Ralf Schumacher eighth. "We have been fortunate here with the weather conditions, as we were actually expecting rain, so in fact it gave us the opportunity to finalize some decisions for the first race, including the tyre choice,” reported an optimistic Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s General Manager Car Design and Development.

“We have a very good idea of what we will run in Bahrain,” he added. “Among these three days we have had some interesting results and could therefore make straightforward decisions to even see what we would run at the race in Barcelona later in the season. In the end, I can only say that year after year it is difficult to draw conclusions from pre-season testing, but we are definitely pleased that we have achieved so much throughout the whole winter."

The final pre-season multi-team test will take place this week at Valencia.

Unofficial Friday times from Barcelona:
1. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.085
2. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:14.442
3. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:14.513
4. Christian Klien, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:14.613
5. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:15.091
6. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:15.829
7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:16.024
8. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:16.288
9. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:16.687
10. Alexander Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:18.133