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Jerez day four - Kovalainen ends Spanish test on top 25 Jul 2008

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/23 running new nose horn wings. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 25 July 2008. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 25 July 2008. David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB4. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 25 July 2008. Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA108 runs a 'shark fin' engine cover. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 25 July 2008. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota TF108. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 25 July 2008.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen leapt straight to the top of the timesheets on Friday in Jerez as this week’s multi-team test drew to a close. Kovalainen clocked a best time of 1m 18.385s to finish almost four tenths of a second ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais.

Conditions were again extremely hot, with track temperatures reaching a heady 45 degrees Celsius. Kovalainen completed 83 laps in the MP4-23, which featured a variety of aero solutions, including antler wings on its nosecone. Bourdais, meanwhile, covered 113 laps in Toro Rosso’s STR3. The Frenchman’s programme focused predominantly on testing Bridgestone’s 2009 slick tyres.

“The day went quite well,” he said. “Running the ’09 tyres was very interesting, even if a combination of a very abrasive track surface and a 50 degree track temperature, meant they did not last very long! We have also come up with some useful data for Hungary and to be honest that’s the most important thing about this test, as 2009 is still a long way away.”

Third quickest was David Coulthard for Red Bull, while Renault tester Romain Grosjean finished the day fourth fastest. Grosjean covered 90 laps in the R28, working on the set-up of the car and evaluating some suspension development work.

“It was a good day with Romain and he settled into the programme quite quickly,” explained Renault’s chief test engineer, Christian Silk. “He was giving good feedback to the engineers and showed consistency on the long runs this morning. So it was another encouraging day with him.”

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa ended the day in fifth. Massa covered 92 laps in the F2008 as he carried out preparatory work for next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Just over a tenth adrift of Massa was Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima in sixth, while BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld ended the day in seventh. Heidfeld completed 99 laps in the F1.08 as he evaluated aerodynamic and mechanical solutions.

Force India’s Adrian Sutil was eighth after enjoying a productive day in the VJM01. Sutil completed 72 laps in total as he sampled the team’s new seamless shift gearbox for the first time.

“We got off to a good start this morning, with Adrian very quickly getting used to the seamless shift gearbox,” explained Dominic Harlow, chief race and test engineer. “In the afternoon we again tested the 2009 development tyres, allowing Adrian to get some more experience of driving on slicks. Overall it's been a good test with more than 1,000 kilometres over the three days and we feel well prepared for Hungary.”

Honda’s Jenson Button took over from team mate Rubens Barrichello in the RA108 and finished in ninth after covering 98 laps. The final runner was Toyota’s third driver Kamui Kobayashi, who completed 90 laps in the TF108. Kobayashi spent the morning preparing for the forthcoming Hungarian Grand Prix and carried out aero comparisons in the afternoon, before switching to tyre testing.

"We spent most of the day working towards the race in Budapest next week and we made good progress,” explained Kobayashi. “Late on we switched our attentions to Bridgestone's slick tyres for 2009. The track obviously changes quite a lot during the day here, becoming more difficult for testing in the heat of the afternoon, but we weren't looking for lap times. We had a lot of different aero parts to try, we completed our programme and we collected some useful data.”

With the summer testing ban now in place, the teams will return to their factories to continue preparations, ahead of next weekend’s Budapest race.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:18.385
2. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:18.746
3. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:19.494
4. Romain Grosjean, Renault, 1:19.561
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:19.611
6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:19.724
7. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.915
8. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:19.965
9. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:20.532
10. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:20.878