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Jerez day four - Bourdais top, Hamilton leads 2009 runners 13 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. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain.  
Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain.

Sebastien Bourdais continued to dominate in Toro Rosso’s interim car as this week's test at Jerez concluded on Friday. Bourdais clocked a best time of 1m 17.472s around the Spanish circuit, which took him over two seconds clear of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, the fastest driver in a 2009-spec car.

In what was the final appearance for the Italian team’s STR3 ahead of the launch of their own ’09 machine, the Frenchman carried out an extensive evaluation of front and rear suspension. And although a minor technical issue brought his day to a premature end, he managed to complete 117 laps.

“It’s been a while since I’ve driven and it’s good to get back in the groove,” said Bourdais after the test. “We are just continuing to evaluate tyres and understand how the slicks are working, as well as trying a few things on the geometry of the car. All in all, a useful working session.”

With Hamilton second in the MP4-24, Renault’s Fernando Alonso took up the third slot on the timesheets in the R29. Alonso focused his attentions on the car’s set-up and covered 109 laps.

“Overall, we have to be very happy as we managed to do lots of laps and the car responded well to the set-up changes we made, so I think we’ve found some good solutions," commented the Spaniard. "Everyday the drivability of the car is improving and although we still have a lot of work to do before the start of the season, we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

Fourth fastest was Nico Rosberg for Williams, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber finished in fifth. Still recovering from the broken leg he sustained in a cycling accident in November, Webber completed 62 laps in the RB5. Despite a brief mechanical issue in the morning, the Australian was able to carry out a tyre comparison, whilst simultaneously evaluating set-up and suspension changes.

“Apart from a few minor niggles, which are to be expected with a brand new car, this first test has produced pleasing results,” commented Red Bull’s head of race engineering, Ian Morgan. “The RB5 proved to be generally reliable and its performance seems encouraging straight out of the box.”

With the Jerez test over, the teams will head back to their bases to analyse the data they have gleaned, ahead of their return to the track in March.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:17.472
2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.632
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:19.846
4. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.217
5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.313