Jerez day three - Bourdais keeps Toro Rosso top 12 Feb 2009
Sebastien Bourdais ensured Toro Rosso maintained their dominant position at the top of the Jerez timesheets on Thursday, after taking over from team mate Sebastien Buemi, as this weeks test continued. Bourdais set a quickest time of 1m 18.493s after covering 126 laps of the Spanish circuit in the teams interim STR3.
The Frenchmans programme for the day included a comparison test between Bridgestones soft and medium compounds, set-up work and an evaluation of some front suspension options. Bourdais will continue to test for the Italian team on Friday.
The days fastest driver in a 2009 car was McLarens Lewis Hamilton, who completed 93 laps in the MP4-24. Hamilton spent the morning concentrating on aero mapping and finding a good balance, before carrying out some longer runs in the afternoon. He also helped the team continue to evaluate their KERS device.
Todays test gave me the first opportunity to drive the MP4-24 in warm, dry conditions - and Im very encouraged by what I felt, he said. The car feels strong, very similar to last years car, in fact. It doesnt take long to get used to the new buttons in the cockpit but the real test for everyone now is to understand the slick tyres ahead of the first race.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel finished the day in third, after setting a time just 0.001 of a second adrift of Hamiltons best. Although some bodywork damage sidelined the RB5 for some time, Vettel completed 92 laps as he carried out aero testing and mechanical set-up work.
Fourth fastest was Williams Kazuki Nakajima in the FW31. Nakajima completed some system and cooling checks and covered 92 laps. Nico Rosberg will join the British team for the final day of the test on Friday and will share pit stop practice work with Nakajima, before taking over the car in the afternoon.
The final Thursday runner was Fernando Alonso for Renault. Alonso enjoyed a busy day in the cockpit, clocking up 133 laps as he added mileage to the R29. The Spaniard carried out several long runs, assessing development items and evaluating the teams KERS device.
"Today was all about getting mileage on the car, especially with the new KERS system, he explained. It was my first full dry day in the car and so I was able to learn a lot. We completed lots of laps, which is encouraging and now we will start working on the set-up of the car so that I can get more comfortable with it.
The Jerez test will conclude on Friday.
Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:18.493
2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:20.737
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:20.738
4. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.898
5. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:21.307