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Portimao day three - Buemi keeps top spot in Portugal 22 Jan 2009

Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009 Timo Glock (GER) Toyota F1 TF109 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 Formula One Testing, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal. 21 January 2009

Improving weather conditions at the Algarve Motor Park meant a more productive day for those teams in action on Wednesday, as testing continued at the Portuguese track. Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi maintained his stranglehold on the top of the timesheets, setting a best of 1m 27.987s in the team’s interim car.

With Toro Rosso cancelling their lunch break, Buemi managed to cover 128 laps as he concentrated on evaluating the car’s suspension system. And once the damp track had dried, the Swiss driver was also able to swap his wet tyres for slicks.

Second fastest was Nico Rosberg driving the 2009 Williams. Rosberg completed 143 laps as he carried out performance and reliability checks in the FW31. The German also evaluated the slick tyres and will hand over the new car to team mate Kazuki Nakajima on Thursday.

Just over half a second down on Rosberg was reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren. Hamilton, driving for the first time since taking the title last November, spent the day acclimatising to the team’s MP4-24 and the 2009 regulations. And although a precautionary engine shutdown hampered his progress, he covered 81 laps.

Toyota’s Timo Glock finished fourth after enjoying his first taste of the TF109. Despite an oil pipe disconnection and a subsequent fire disrupting his running, Glock covered 64 laps as he compared set-up options, evaluated tyres and tested the new moveable front wing.

"My first impression of the new car is good,” said the German. “In the morning, on a wet track, I felt pretty comfortable and it was easy to drive; there were no real problems. Then we had the issue with the oil pipe which cost us some time but the guys worked really hard to repair the car and we got some laps at the end in dry conditions.

“Those first laps on a dry track felt pretty good and gave me a positive feeling but we didn't have time to really set the car up properly. It would be nice to do a lot more laps tomorrow but the weather forecast isn't very good."

Completing the day’s line-up was Fernando Alonso for Renault. Alonso, driving the R29 for the first time, completed 86 laps as he acclimatised to the new car. Providing the team with its first dry-weather data, Alonso was pleased with his progress.

"It is very early days with the new car and so we keep discovering things and improving our understanding with every lap,” he said. “There are so many things to learn in a short time and we need to maximise our time on track, so to do so many laps today was a good effort."

Testing will conclude at the Algarve circuit on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Portimao:
1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:27.987
2. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:29.729
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:30.242
4. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:30.878
5. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:31.743