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Jerez day four - De la Rosa puts McLaren on top 19 Sep 2008

Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.08 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota F1 TF108 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW30 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain. Lucas Di Grassi (BRA) Renault R28 Formula One Testing 17-19 September 2008. Jerez, Spain.

The 2008 season’s final multi-team test drew to a close at Jerez in Spain on Friday, with McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa on top of the timesheets. The Spaniard, one of eight drivers in action, set a best of 1m 18.992s, a quarter of a second up on nearest rival, BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.

With much improved weather conditions, McLaren’s test team were able to complete their programme for the week, with the focus remaining on aero development work for the upcoming races and their KERS evaluation programme.

At BMW Sauber, Heidfeld completed 98 laps in the F1.08, bringing his team’s total mileage for the week to 1,465 kilometres. "Today I concentrated on the mechanical and aerodynamic development of the car," he said. "We found some promising solutions to improve the set-up of the car."

In the fine conditions, the teams took the opportunity to catch up on time lost to rain on Thursday, with many drivers running close to 100 laps or more. Renault’s Lucas di Grassi was third fastest after 102, as he continued with aero and set-up work.

"It was another hot day, but it was much better than yesterday and we were able to do lots of laps,” said the Brazilian. “I felt even more comfortable with the car and we have definitely improved it a lot during the week. We worked on lots of different things, including some set-up work and new tyre runs in the morning, and in the afternoon we evaluated some parts to be used in the last few races."

Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the times, back in the Toro Rosso cockpit after his two days with Red Bull Racing. He too concentrated on aerodynamic and set-up, as well as evaluating some suspension and power steering options, and carrying out some 2009 development.

“At this, the final session of the season, our main test topics were trying out some new components on the car and the evaluation of two drivers, Sebastien Buemi and Takuma Sato,” explained Toro Rosso team principal, Franz Tost. “On Wednesday, Red Bull young driver Buemi was in the cockpit and, as expected, he did a good job. On Thursday, Japan’s Takuma Sato was behind the wheel. Unfortunately, he was only able to run in the morning because the rain arrived at lunchtime. Despite only completing a few laps, Sato also put up a good performance.

“Although those two days were something of an audition for a 2009 seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull is in no hurry to make a decision at this point in the year, when we are concentrating on doing well in the final four races.”

Buemi was back in action for regular team, Red Bull, the Swiss driver clocking the fifth-fastest time. His day was primarily dedicated to aero work and evaluation of several new components for the final four races of the year. Apart from a small delay with a mechanical problem, the session was productive and his 84 laps made up for time lost during the first two days.

“Definitely the best of the three days,” commented Red Bull’s chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. “Basically, Seb hardly got out of the car and every time he came into the pits, we put something new on for him to try. Hopefully, the race team can see the results in the coming flyaway races.”

Toyota’s Timo Glock was sixth quickest, as he carried out a programme of aero comparisons for the coming races, including Singapore and Japan, as well as work on brakes and other systems.

"Following yesterday's interruptions, today we had a much busier day of running,” commented Gerd Pfeiffer, Toyota’s test team manager. “Timo's programme included work on aerodynamics for the coming races along with brakes and other systems. We had no technical problems and we collected a lot of useful data. Overall it has been a positive week despite the intervention of the weather yesterday. We have made good progress and we can head into the last four races with confidence."

Completing the Friday line-up were Honda’s Alexander Wurz in seventh and Williams’ Nico Rosberg in eighth. Wurz tested with Honda’s KERS development system in place. He completed 51 laps, evaluating the system at various levels and gathering valuable data.

"We have had a good test this week achieving some positive results which will assist our efforts both this season and looking ahead to 2009,” said Honda team principal Ross Brawn. “Along with aerodynamic and set-up work with the RA108, we completed an engine settings evaluation which should have benefits for the remaining four races.

"The test was also a critical stage in our development of KERS. Although installed in a 'mule' car, the KERS system was fully functioning and very close to 2009 specification. Alex was able to give an invaluable input into the track behaviour of our KERS system and highlight several areas we need to focus on. A very valuable test and I am extremely pleased with the performance and the progress we have made with the system."

The next official multi-team test session is post-season, on November 17 to 19 at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:18.992
2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:19.250
3. Lucas di Grassi, Renault, 1:19.280
4. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:19.470
5. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1:20.005
6. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:20.482
7. Alexander Wurz, Honda, 1:22.637
8. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:22.876