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Jerez day three - Bourdais keeps Toro Rosso top 12 Feb 2009

Sebastian Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain.  
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Williams pit crew Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain.

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 week’s test continued. Bourdais set a quickest time of 1m 18.493s after covering 126 laps of the Spanish circuit in the team’s interim STR3.

The Frenchman’s programme for the day included a comparison test between Bridgestone’s 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 day’s fastest driver in a 2009 car was McLaren’s 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.

“Today’s test gave me the first opportunity to drive the MP4-24 in warm, dry conditions - and I’m very encouraged by what I felt,” he said. “The car feels strong, very similar to last year’s car, in fact. It doesn’t 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 Hamilton’s 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 team’s 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