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Valencia day three - Raikkonen stunning 02 Mar 2006

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2005

Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest testing time of the winter at Valencia on Wednesday as McLaren concluded their on-track preparations for the 2006 season. A 1m 09.416s put the Finn almost a second clear of the Honda of Anthony Davidson, with Pedro de la Rosa splitting the two in an interim V10 McLaren.

"We have had a productive couple of days in Valencia this week, we had some good pace with the car today and I set the fastest time, but testing is very different to being on the race track,” said Raikkonen, after racking up 121 laps of the Spanish circuit.

“The work this week was pretty much the same as at previous tests, focusing on the set-up of the car with my race engineer Mark Slade, alongside some tyre selection with Michelin. Since we first ran the car, the test team has worked so hard on track so that we could put as much mileage on the MP4-21 and push the programme forward much as possible before the first race.

“I have completed 11 ½ test days in the MP4-21, and covered just over 3250km during these days. I am now looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in Bahrain next week and driving the car in a competitive environment to see where we really are performance wise."

Davidson was the busiest man on track, running over 140 laps in the Honda RA106. He finished comfortably clear of fourth-place man David Coulthard, back in the cockpit for Red Bull after recovering from the trapped nerve in his back that forced him to pull out of last week’s session. Running the RB2 chassis that will serve as the team’s Bahrain T-car, Coulthard carried out aero and engine work, as well as tyre evaluations for Australia.

"The day was not entirely trouble free," commented Red Bull’s chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. "But we still managed to put quite a few miles on the engine and we did make some progress."

Toyota joined the session with Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli filling fifth and sixth spots. A minor electrical problem restricted Schumacher to 60 laps, while Trulli managed 20 more as the team worked on final preparations for Bahrain.

"We were able to do some set-up work and tyre comparisons,” explained Trulli. “We also worked on some small test items to prepare for the new season, like different oil-level set-ups. This caused some smoke in the morning, but this is of no worry for us it was something we were purposely testing. All in all, we have gained some good mileage and look forward to pushing hard until the end of tomorrow to gain the confidence we need before the first race."

Williams completed the Wednesday line-up, with Alexander Wurz seventh fastest in the sole FW28. Testing continues at Valencia on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Valencia:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:09.416
2. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (Michelin), 1:09.836
3. Anthony Davidson, Honda (Michelin), 1:10.312
4. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:11.050
5. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:11.121
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:12.163
7. Alexander Wurz, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:12.257