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Barcelona day three - Kovalainen steals Ferrari's thunder 16 Nov 2007

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault R27, Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 15 November 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Mike Conway (GBR) Honda RA107. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 15 November 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton James Rossiter (GBR) Super Aguri F1 Team in the gravel. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 15 November 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Ferrari F2007 Nosecone Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 15 November 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 15 November 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest man in action at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, as this week's multi-team test session drew to a close. Kovalainen clocked a best time of 1m 20.659s around the Spanish track - almost four-tenths of a second quicker than the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

The Finn’s third day in the car was devoted to testing the new standard Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which all teams must use next season. He covered 81 laps in the R27, completing a full programme without interruption.

“Today, we finished off our three-day test session, which has been very positive in my opinion,” said Kovalainen. “The car handled well right from the start. We've worked on the new ECU and we've kept progressing over the three days. We've been competitive whatever the track conditions, and we've shown how determined Renault is to fight its way back to the front in 2008. I think it's a very important first step in our development programme for next season.”

With Michael Schumacher’s departure, Massa was joined by tester Luca Badoer, who finished in sixth. The pair completed the Italian team’s planned programme, which included the evaluation of several new components and electronics and covered over 160 laps in total.

On his last day as Toyota’s third driver, Franck Montagny posted the third-fastest time. Race driver Jarno Trulli, 14th, was also in action for the Japanese team. The duo focused on preparations for the 2008 regulation changes, evaluating the ECU and carrying out set-up comparisons.

Sebastian Vettel continued to be Toro Rosso’s pacesetter taking up the fourth slot, while new team mate Sebastien Bourdais finished in ninth. With Bourdais in the team’s 2007-spec car adapting the car to suit his driving style, Vettel tested the new ECU. Red Bull’s David Coulthard was less than a hundredth of a second down on the young German in fifth. Coulthard continued to work on the aero and mechanical set-up in the RB3, while team tester Robert Doornbos, 20th, carried out an evaluation of the ECU.

Pedro de la Rosa was McLaren’s fastest driver in seventh, with fellow tester Gary Paffett ending the day in tenth. Together the pair only covered 64 laps to ensure the British team still have plenty of running time available for the final test of the year in a fortnight’s time.

Nico Rosberg was eighth quickest for Williams, while Kazuki Nakajima was 13th. Despite numerous red flags, the duo covered 69 and 127 laps respectively, finalising systems checks. Finishing just ahead of Nakajima were the BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld, 11th, and Robert Kubica, 12th. Kubica and Heidfeld both tested the new ECU and several new mechanical parts.

Former Honda third driver Christian Klien enjoyed an impressive day for Force India ending the day in 15th. Klien was joined by former Toro Rosso racer, Vitantonio Liuzzi, who finished in 17th.

“Once again a productive day to conclude a positive week of testing for us,” said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “Both Christian and Tonio did a very good job for us, with interesting and informative feedback on the electronics and general set-up of the car. We had no real mechanical problems throughout the day and in general this week, with testing new items and drivers, has had a very positive effect on the team.”

Jenson Button was the fastest Honda driver in action, clocking the 16th-quickest time. Fellow British driver Mike Conway joined Button on track, becoming the third GP2 racer to try out the RA107 during the week. Conway covered 72 laps, while Button completed 96.

“I had a really good day today,” said Conway. “I settled into the car quickly and felt comfortable with the seat and the positioning which was good as it enabled us to concentrate on finding time right from the start. I felt that we were able to make progress throughout the day and found some good time when we ran with new tyres. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Honda for a great day and I hope there is more to come in the future.”

Completing the line-up on Thursday was James Rossiter for Super Aguri. Rossiter carried out evaluations on the team’s control system, accumulating data for engineering analysis, and carried out brake and aero evaluation work for 2008. He completed 60 laps in total.

With testing in Barcelona now over, the team will head back to their respective factories before reconvening again in Spain in a fortnight’s time for a further three-day test at Jerez.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:20.659
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:21.044
3. Franck Montagny, Toyota, 1:21.363
4. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:21.486
5. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:21.555
6. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:21.741
7. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:21.805
8. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.820
9. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.939
10. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:22.070
11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:22.460
12. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:22.706
13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:23.039
14. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:23.064
15. Christian Klien, Force India, 1:23.084
16. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:23.118
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:23.206
18. Mike Conway, Honda, 1:23.729
19. James Rossiter, Super Aguri, 1:23.931
20. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull, 1:24.102