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Sepang day three - Hamilton tops damp test 29 Mar 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 running with 4 mirrors. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 29 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA107. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 29 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF107. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 29 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 29 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR2. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 29 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest time of a rain-hit test session at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit on Thursday. A wet track at the start of the day followed by a late-afternoon shower limited the teams’ dry-weather running. As a result the test will now be extended into Friday.

With ten teams in action, Red Bull’s Mark Webber came closest to matching Hamilton’s pace, two tenths down on the British youngster, who was running an MP4-22 with four rear-view mirrors. Ralf Schumacher was third fastest for Toyota, ahead of Tonio Liuzzi in the Toro Rosso and Felipe Massa in the similarly-powered Ferrari.

Massa concentrated on finding the best set-up for the F2007, both in the wet and in the dry, completing a total of 64 laps. The Brazilian will continue work for the Italian team on Friday in preparation for next month’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

At Williams, Nico Rosberg took over driving duties from Alex Wurz and finished the day sixth fastest. “Nico was able to trial the car in damp conditions, which helped give us some important data for the race,” reported team manager Tim Newton. “While acclimatising to the extreme humidity on his first day of testing, Nico concentrated on brake, aero and cooling tests as well as carrying out systems checks.”

Jenson Button put the Honda works squad back in front of customer team Super Aguri as he went seventh to Anthony Davidson’s eighth. They were followed by BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld and Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen. Heidfeld lost the entire afternoon session after a serious engine fire caused by an oil leak. Thankfully, he now has Friday to make up the time.

Renault will also be grateful for the extra day after Kovalainen completed just 20 laps. As well as delays caused by the weather, the world champions had to wait for new parts to arrive from their Enstone factory in the UK.

Thursday’s rain kept track temperatures somewhat lower than earlier in the week, with a peak of 35 degrees Celsius. Dry conditions are forecast for Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Sepang:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:35.918
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:36.138
3. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:36.700
4. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso, 1:36.712
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:36.947
6. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:37.070
7. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:37.472
8. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 1:37.606
9. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:38.551
10. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:39.654