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Barcelona day four - Webber heads rain-hit session 17 Apr 2008

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 17 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 17 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 17 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA108. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 17 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 17 April 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

Following Force India's and Toro Rosso’s departure, there were just eight teams in action during the final day of this week’s test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday. Few drivers, however, managed significant mileage due to the forecast rain interrupting the session.

With the circuit wet most of the time, intermediate tyres meant lap times were significantly slower than over the previous three days. Red Bull’s Mark Webber topped the order with a best of 1m 21.953s - set during one of the drier periods - which put him over 1.5 seconds clear of McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen.

Webber covered 37 laps during the day, completing two dry runs - one in the morning and the other after lunch. Although the rain prevented the Australian from sampling Bridgestone’s 2009 slick tyres, he did manage to evaluate several new aero components for the RB4.

“Despite the weather shortening our programme today, this has been a good four day test,” commented Red Bull's chief test engineer Ian Morgan. “We were able to acquire plenty of data from various new aerodynamic components and the results were positive. Some of these new developments will find their way onto the car for the Spanish Grand Prix.”

Second-placed Kovalainen also covered over 30 laps for McLaren. The Finn finished just ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who completed 33 laps and ended the day in third.

BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, fourth, was also forced to shorten his programme, but during a brief dry spell did manage 32 laps of set-up work. Kubica was followed in the timesheets by Jenson Button, who finished fifth for Honda.

“It's unfortunate that my day in the car this week coincided with the bad weather that we have experienced today,” Button said. “I was only able to complete 42 laps, mostly on wet tyres, and could not really gather any information from those laps. Thankfully the team had three good days of testing earlier in the week so we are well prepared for the race weekend.”

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima also found his sole day in the FW30 spoiled by the rain. Nakajima, sixth fastest, was still the most productive driver, completing 62 laps. Renault’s Nelson Piquet, meanwhile, ran just one lap less than the Japanese driver and finished seventh.

“It was a shame that it was so wet today as we could only do limited running,” Piquet said. “The rain stopped after lunch and the track was beginning to dry, but then there was another shower in the middle of the afternoon which made it difficult to do much else. But for the final hour or so the track was not in bad shape and we completed a good amount of laps.”

Taking up the final slot on the timesheets was Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in eighth, the Italian totalling just 18 laps.

"Our weather forecasts were unfortunately accurate so the rain has been the major factor today,” explained Toyota's test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer. “We were expecting it but as always it makes meaningful testing difficult. After lunch we did some brief work on wet set-up to try and learn what we could. The week's test has nevertheless been useful and we have prepared well for next week's Spanish Grand Prix.”

All eight teams now plan to head back to their respective factories ahead of next week when they will return to the Barcelona circuit for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.953
2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:23.589
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:23.619
4. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:24.715
5. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:24.873
6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:24.927
7. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:26.100
8. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:32.150