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Barcelona day three - Nakajima shines in the sun - updated 22 Feb 2008

Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 21 February 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 21 February 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 21 February 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota TF108. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 21 February 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 21 February 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

After two days of waiting, the six teams at this week’s test session at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya were treated to dry conditions on Thursday. And with the sun finally shining, it was Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima who was the man to beat, after the Japanese driver clocked a best lap of 1m 22.153 around the Spanish circuit.

Nakjima was joined on track by 2008 team mate Nico Rosberg, fifth, and Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg, 13th. While Rosberg enjoyed sole use of one of the team's FW30s, completing 109 laps, Nakajima and Hulkenberg shared the second to cover 32 and 59 laps respectively. All three drivers concentrated their efforts on chassis set-up work.

Barely three-hundredths of a second down on Nakajima was Heikki Kovalainen for McLaren. Having shied away from the damp conditions earlier in the week, it was a successful first day for the British team, with team tester Pedro de la Rosa finishing in third. The duo covered over 150 laps as they evaluated aerodynamic developments for the MP4-23.

Wednesday’s quickest runner, Felipe Massa, took up fourth slot for Ferrari, while the Italian team’s tester Luca Badoer finished eighth in the second F2008. Massa and Badoer continued with the development work, focusing on reliability, electronics, set-up and, in particular, new aerodynamic solutions.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber and David Coulthard, meanwhile, ended the day in sixth and seventh respectively as they continued to prepare the RB4 for next month's season opener. Although Webber was sidelined by a minor problem, the pair covered almost 200 laps between them.

“This has been a very useful three days, despite the weather,” said Red Bull's chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. “It was the first time this season that we have had the full race crew personnel all attending a test to operate as a team and, as such, it was excellent preparation for Melbourne.”

Also enjoying top-ten placings were Fernando Alonso in ninth for Renault and Timo Glock in 10th for Toyota. Alonso was joined by fellow race driver Nelson Piquet Jr, 11th. Both Piquet and the Spaniard focused their attentions on set-up work and covered over 150 laps.

“The only day of dry running this week, so there was a big push to try and get as much done as possible,” said Christian Silk, Renault's chief test engineer. “We were reasonably happy with the balance of the car, and just a few small reliability issues. With Nelson our priority was to continue accumulating miles to get him settled in the car, and we continued with our usual set-up programme with Fernando.”

Glock covered 109 laps during the session as he focused on evaluating the TF108’s new aerodynamic package. He was joined by Toyota tester Kamui Kobayashi, who carried out engine and set-up work and finished in 12th.

“Finally we had a day of running in the dry today so we could at last begin meaningful work on our new aerodynamics package,” explained Dieter Gass, Toyota's chief race and test engineer. “It was still a difficult day because there were many disruptions for red flags.

"But on Timo’s car we made it through the programme of work that we had pencilled in for the first day of this week’s test. Kamui also made it through his programme and collected some useful data.”

Most teams will now leave the Circuit de Catalunya for a brief period before returning for a second three-day test next week from February 25. Ferrari, who only joined proceedings on Wednesday, are the exception and are expected to continue testing on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:22.153
2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:22.185
3. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:22.208
4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.213
5. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:22.248
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:22.477
7. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:22.499
8. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:22.535
9. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:22.657
10. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:22.901
11. Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault, 1:23.286
12. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:24.132
13. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:24.222