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Valencia day four - Raikkonen ends test on a high 25 Jan 2008

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 16 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF108. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Valencia, Spain, Thursday 24 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Valencia, Spain, Thursday 24 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 Formula One Testing, Day Four, Valencia, Spain, Thursday 24 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW30 Formula One Testing, Day Four, Valencia, Spain, Thursday 24 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton

After being overshadowed by McLaren on Wednesday, Ferrari bounced back to the top of the timesheets on Thursday in Valencia, courtesy of world champion Kimi Raikkonen. With the Spanish track enjoying settled weather during the last day of the three-day session, Raikkonen clocked a best lap of 1m 11.189s - just a shade quicker than fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen in McLaren’s MP4-23.

Raikkonen, who completed 88 laps in the F2008, was joined by team mate Felipe Massa who finished the day third. Both completed the Italian team’s scheduled programme of development work, which focused on finding the best set-up for the car. The duo will be back in action in Bahrain in early February.

Kovalainen covered 89 laps as he continued a programme of set-up work and systems durability. He was accompanied by McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton, fifth, who completed 84 laps before stopping out on track with an hour of the session left to run.

“With clear weather on all three days this week we have been able to accumulate more miles on the two MP4-23s, which is crucially important at this stage of the development with the focus very much on endurance and reliability,” said McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh. “We are on target with our programme and looking forward to seeing how the car will handle round the Barcelona circuit next week.”

Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima finished fourth fastest after testing the team’s new FW30 for the first time. He was joined by tester Nico Hulkenberg, 15th, who took charge of the team's older interim car.

The fastest BMW Sauber driver was Robert Kubica in sixth, while team mate Nick Heidfeld finished in ninth. With Heidfeld in last year’s car, Kubica was charged with driving the squad’s new F1.08 and the Polish driver completed several long runs.

Just under three-tenths down on Kubica was seventh-placed Jarno Trulli for Toyota. Trulli covered 96 laps in the TF108 as he evaluated various aerodynamic configurations. Team mate Timo Glock, tenth, initially had to wait for the squad to finish some electrical repair work on his new challenger, but eventually completed 82 laps.

Eighth quickest was Sebastian Vettel, while Toro Rosso team mate Sebastien Bourdais ended the day in 13th. The duo covered over 200 laps in the squad’s interim STR2.

“These three days have been good from a reliability point of view, with around 2000 kilometres completed,” said Toro Rosso's chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. “We have made progress with this reliability, especially in terms of the gearbox. We also increased our understanding of the control systems for the 2008 electronics and acquired useful data regarding car set-up.”

After taking over from team mate Fernando Alonso, Nelson Piquet Jr got his first taste of Renault’s new R28 and finished 11th. The French team will be in Paris next Thursday to officially unveil their new car to the media.

“I think it was a good day and it was important for me to get back in the car,” commented the young Brazilian. “I have not raced in Formula One yet, so it's always beneficial to have time in the car. A new car always needs lots of set-up work and we continued with that today, trying different approaches to improve the balance of the car. I think there is a lot of promise and I'm looking forward to continuing working with the team next week in Barcelona.”

Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella ended the day in 12th after completing a productive day for the team. Fisichella covered 96 laps as he worked on set-up and continued to hone the new standardised ECU.

“It was an excellent final day today and, apart from one minor mechanical issue right at the end of the day, we had no real reliability issues and were able to complete our programme,” commented Force India's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “Giancarlo and the team improved throughout the day, completing work on set-up and dampers as planned.”

Completing the line-up were the Hondas of Jenson Button and Takashi Kogure in 16th and 17th respectively. While Kogure continued to test last year's RA107 as part of Honda’s Formula Dream project, Button got his first run in the Japanese team's 2008 car, the RA108. The British driver completed 80 laps, running through a series of reliability checks.

The majority of teams will continue their test programmes next week at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, starting on Friday. Toyota and Ferrari, however, plan to go further afield to test at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit.

Unofficial Thursday times from Valencia:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:11.189
2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:11.206
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:11.831
4. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:11.971
5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:11.994
6. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:12.095
7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:12.350
8. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:12.526
9. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:12.600
10. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:12.705
11. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:12.973
12. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:12.976
13. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:13.060
14. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:13.133
15. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:13.306
16. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:13.689
17. Takashi Kogure, Honda, 1:15.703