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Jerez day three - Vettel fastest for Red Bull Racing 18 Sep 2008

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB4 runs wide onto the dirt. Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW F1.08 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Takuma Sato (JPN) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota TF108 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain.

Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel was the fastest man around Jerez on Thursday as he spent another day testing with his 2009 team, Red Bull Racing. Sister team - and Vettel’s current employers - Toro Rosso tried out Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato in his absence.

In a session interrupted by showers, Vettel completed just 37 laps of the Spanish circuit, barely half that of second-placed man Nick Heidfeld, who finished just over a tenth down on his fellow German in the BMW Sauber.

Vettel was forced to sit out the early part of the morning session as his RB4 required an unscheduled engine change. Once out on track, he successfully worked through both an aero and a mechanical comparison test which produced positive results. Red Bull tester Sebastien Buemi will be back in action on Friday as Vettel returns to Toro Rosso.

Heidfeld’s 70 laps saw him working on the F1.08’s mechanical and aerodynamic set-up, evaluating different configurations for the remaining 2008 races. When it started to rain around lunch time the team changed their plans for the afternoon. "As we might have some rain during the forthcoming races we took this opportunity to work on the car's wet weather set-up," confirmed Heidfeld.

Lucas Di Grassi completed a second day of testing with Renault, the Brazilian going third fastest after 36 laps, all before the rain arrived. "A slightly challenging day for us as we didn't get all the test results we wanted to and the day finished early due to poor weather,” commented Christian Silk, Renault’s chief test engineer. “However, we managed to cover the main items this morning, so it's not been too bad and we've got some interesting data to go through this evening. Hopefully it will be dry tomorrow and we can get a good final day of testing in."

Local hero Pedro de la Rosa was fourth as he took over testing duties at McLaren, who carried on with their programme of aerodynamic proving of components to take to the final four races. De la Rosa also continued the KERS work that began during Wednesday’s session. The team elected not to run in the rain.

At the wheel of Honda’s RA108 car, Alex Wurz spent the morning session continuing the aerodynamic programme which he started on Wednesday. The rain prompted a change to the Japanese team’s planned schedule and Wurz, who ended the day fifth, completed a short programme on Bridgestone’s wet-weather tyres.

Sato, who last raced in Formula One in this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, spent the early part of his session working on set-up to get a feel for the car, while also completing an aero test which produced positive results. Toro Rosso were pleased with the work he did, clearly demonstrating his previous F1 experience with his sixth-fastest time. However, when the rain arrived the team decided to bring the test to an end, as they had nothing to evaluate in wet conditions and did not want to take any risks with a driver new to the car.

“At the start of the day we were collecting aero data. Then by the end of the morning we began timed runs, so I could really feel the car and I started to enjoy the laps,” commented Sato. “Unfortunately in the afternoon it started to rain so we had to stop, that was a great shame, as I was looking forward to proper running in the afternoon. Although I couldn’t complete the day due to the weather conditions, I really enjoyed driving the STR3. I would like to say a big thank you to Red Bull and to the team for giving me this great opportunity.”

Japanese tester Kamui Kobayashi was again on track for Toyota, working on set-up and other systems for the last three 2008 races after Singapore. But he was interrupted by a hydraulics issue in the morning, which cost him 90 minutes, before the rain took hold and he finished seventh in the times. Timo Glock will take over at the wheel of the TF108 on Friday.

Completing the timesheets was Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima. Testing concludes at Jerez on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:18.001
2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:18.167
3. Lucas di Grassi, Renault, 1:18.999
4. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:19.281
5. Alexander Wurz, Honda, 1:19.499
6. Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso, 1:19.574
7. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:19.863
8. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.892