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Bahrain day three - McLaren take charge 24 Feb 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB3 is chased by mechanics. F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107. F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Pitstop practice for Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2007. F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton

McLaren finished one-two in Sakhir on Saturday as the first leg of Bahrain testing drew to close. World champion Fernando Alonso led the way, clocking a best lap of 1m 30.944s, with rookie team mate Lewis Hamilton just a tenth of a second behind.

Both Alonso and Hamilton continued with their development programmes for McLaren’s new car, the MP4-22. Even though both 2007 challengers experienced on-track stoppages, the pair covered 127 laps. While Alonso had a slight hydraulic issue, Hamilton’s programme was disrupted by an engine failure late in the day. The British driver’s MP4-22 had, however, survived well beyond its contingency mileage, after completing over 1,200 kilometres.

Seven-tenths down on Hamilton were the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, in third and fourth respectively. Ferrari’s technical programme focused on several areas including a long-run test for the 056 engine, comprehensive Grand Prix simulations and comparisons of various mechanical components. Both Massa and Raikkonen will test again in Bahrain next week.

Heikki Kovalainen made the top five for Renault, while team tester Nelson Piquet Jr finished in ninth. Kovalainen spent the day concentrating on set-up evaluation and Bridgestone tyre testing, ahead of March’s season opener in Australia. Piquet, meanwhile, wrapped up his pre-season work, collecting data on chassis, handling and tyre behaviour.

Just behind Kovalainen’s Renault were the Hondas of Rubens Barrichello, sixth, and Jenson Button, seventh. Both drivers spent the morning carrying out aerodynamic evaluations on the new RA107. While Button continued his aero programme in the afternoon, Barrichello switched to a race simulation.

At Red Bull, David Coulthard was the quickest driver in eighth after an encouraging outing in the RB3, while team mate Mark Webber finished in 14th.

“Generally over the three days, we made good progress, culminating in both David and Mark completing the equivalent of a race distance each today," said Paul Monaghan, Red Bull’s head of race and test engineering. "David also posted some competitive times, while Mark was working on different aspects of the car's performance. As far as cooling and brakes are concerned, we look in good shape and, although we still have some reliability concerns, I think we can sort these out before tackling the next three days of testing here."

Friday leader Nick Heidfeld dropped down the order to tenth for BMW Sauber after an unscheduled engine change, with Robert Kubica in the second F1.07 just two-hundredths of a second slower in 11th slot. Both carried out set-up tests and conducted aero work during the day, comparing different front wings.

Super Aguri’s Anthony Davidson was the 12th-fastest driver during his final track day with the squad before the Australian Grand Prix. Davidson covered 124 laps as he completed a qualifying run and a full race simulation in the Japanese team’s interim car.

Test driver Franck Montagny was 13th for Toyota, while team mate Jarno Trulli was 15th in the second TF107. Montagny covered 111 laps in total, completing an entire race distance during the morning. Trulli’s progress, however, was more intermittent, due to gearbox issues. The Italian’s TF107 also sported the team’s new aero package, which included an unusual looking nosecone, with the upper elements of the front wing attached directly to it.

Completing the line-up on Saturday was Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed, who got his first taste of the new STR2 machine. Speed took 16th slot after completing 60 laps in the Italian squad’s 2007 car.

Testing resumes in Bahrain next Tuesday.

Unofficial Saturday times from Bahrain:
1. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:30.994
2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:31.094
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:31.718
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:31.867
5. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:32.032
6. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:32.115
7. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:32.137
8. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:32.220
9. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:32.334
10. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:32.451
11. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:32.475
12. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:32.553
13. Franck Montagny, Toyota, 1:32.917
14. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:33.034
15. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:33.062
16. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso, 1:33.225