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Silverstone day three - Hamilton the clear leader 27 Jun 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Three, Thursday 26 June 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF108. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Three, Thursday 26 June 2008. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Three, Thursday 26 June 2008. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Three, Thursday 26 June 2008. David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Three, Thursday 26 June 2008.

McLaren’s on-track preparations for next weekend’s British Grand Prix were given a boost on Thursday as Lewis Hamilton comfortably topped the times in the final day of testing at Silverstone. Hamilton finished well over half a second clear of nearest rival, Toyota's Timo Glock.

The McLaren driver was charged with completing the final evaluation of the team’s new aero components for the forthcoming British race, alongside set-up work. He covered 88 laps in total. Glock, meanwhile, completed 79 laps for Toyota, despite losing time after colliding with Red Bull’s David Coulthard.

“We had a problem this morning when I had a collision with David Coulthard,” explained the German. “It was a misunderstanding - when I turned in at the end of the Hangar Straight David was there. I just didn't see him so I apologise for that.

"The mechanics did a really good job to get the car back into shape and they worked hard all day because we had a lot to do. We've made a good step in the last couple of weeks and the last two results have given the team a boost. Now we have to keep up the form at Silverstone next week.”

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen ended his day in third. Raikkonen focused on development alongside set-up work for next weekend’s Silverstone event. The Finn covered 60 laps in total. He finished over five tenths ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who completed 78 laps in the R28.

"We lost some track time in the morning, but the afternoon went well and so we were able to complete most of what we needed to,” explained Christian Silk, Renault’s chief test engineer. “Again we concentrated on preparation for the Grand Prix to get the car well balanced and to Fernando's liking, and he was happy with the changes we made to the car. So it has been a good test, we've made a lot of progress and that puts us in a good position for the race next week."

Nick Heidfeld was fifth quickest for BMW Sauber. Heidfeld concentrated on set-up for the next Grand Prix, aerodynamic testing and the evaluation of different mechanical upgrades and tyres. The German driver completed 93 laps, bringing the total for the team over the three-day test up to 242 laps.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima was sixth fastest, ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil in seventh. Sutil continued the team’s evaluation of the VJM01’s new components and covered 71 laps.

“I think it was a useful day,” he explained. “We did some good running and could do a lot of testing with the inerter damper, which was the main target of the day. It will take a little while to feel completely happy with it, but I definitely think there is potential there, we just need to understand how to get the most out of it as all day we had some problems with understeer that we just couldn't seem to get rid of.

“Aero-wise, I think we did a good step, the engine cover seems to work well and also the front wing. We've got more downforce now, so we need to put it all together, both mechanically and aerodynamically, and I think we will have a step forward for Silverstone next week.”

Rubens Barrichello took the eighth slot for Honda. After an initial installation run to ensure that he was comfortable with the set-up of the car, Barrichello continued the squad’s aerodynamic programme, alongside further evaluation of the tyre options. He covered 94 laps.

"We had a positive day at Silverstone today,” explained the Brazilian. “The car performed well and I could feel an improvement from the new aerodynamic parts that we were evaluating, even with the strong winds. We concentrated on achieving a good balance for the combination of high speed and low speed corners that you have here.”

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais was the ninth-fastest driver. Bourdais worked through a tyre comparison in the STR3, as well as an evaluation of brake materials. Apart from losing track time following an oil leak and an exhaust problem, the Frenchman enjoyed a productive day and covered 76 laps.

Completing Thursday’s line-up was David Coulthard for Red Bull. Following his collision with Glock and a subsequent gearbox issue in the afternoon, Coulthard only managed 30 laps in the RB4.

“Unfortunately I did not get much running and as the high-speed nature of Silverstone means it helps to get your eye in, I will be slightly on the back foot going into practice for the British Grand Prix,” he explained. “But I think that, as a team, we are strong enough to deal with that, so I hope to have a good home race.”

With next weekend’s British Grand Prix looming, most teams will now return to their respective factories to continue preparations.

Unofficial Thursday times from Silverstone:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.170
2. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:19.815
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:20.321
4. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:20.862
5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:21.011
6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.059
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.331
8. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:21.344
9. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.432
10. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:22.232