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Jerez day four - Alonso puts Renault back on top 04 Mar 2009

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F60 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso stormed to the top of the timesheets on Wednesday as this week’s test at Jerez continued. Alonso clocked a best lap of 1m 19.945s around the Spanish circuit to finish over three-tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

On what was Renault’s final day in action this week, the Spaniard covered a mammoth 130 laps as he added mileage to the R29 and evaluated a variety of new developments. Despite strong winds, he was pleased with the French team’s progress.

"I'm very happy with the result from this test as we had two trouble-free days, a very consistent car and the work we have done has been very useful,” he said. “It was really windy today, especially from mid-morning onwards, which made it difficult to understand some of the set-up changes, but all the teams were in the same position and we were still able to learn some important things about the car.”

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld finished third, after covering 99 laps in the F1.09. Alongside set-up evaluations, Heidfeld also carried out a 'run-out of fuel run', which resulted in him stopping out on the track. This standard procedure allows the engineers to compare telemetry readings with the car's actual fuel level. He will continue to test on Thursday.

Fourth fastest was Toyota's Jarno Trulli, who covered 131 laps in the TF109. Trulli spent the morning carrying out set-up work before switching to long runs in the afternoon.

"The main problem throughout the day was the wind," explained the Italian. "It was gusting and making it hard to make the comparisons we were looking for. We still put in a lot of laps and we put in our best lap later than most teams in the day. So we can be optimistic about that but overall today was hard work."

Red Bull's Mark Webber also found his day hindered by the high wind speeds, but covered 107 laps on his way to fifth in the times. Webber focused on a general pre-Melbourne development programme and will continue to test the RB5 on Thursday, when he will evaluate Bridgestone's 2010 tyres.

Sixth quickest was Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, who completed 83 laps in the FW31. Nakajima carried out set-up work, alongside aero and mechanical part testing and practice starts. Just under three-tenths down on the Japanese driver was Lewis Hamilton for McLaren.

Although a delay in fitting new parts to the MP4-24's rear suspension caused Hamilton to miss most of the morning's running, he covered 70 laps by the end of the day and declared himself satisfied with progress.

Completing the day's runners was Adrian Sutil for Force India. Sutil put in 79 laps to bring the newly-launched VJM02's total mileage to just over 1,000 kilometres. The young German completed the majority of the team's schedule, which included set-up evaluations, tyre comparisons and a number of test items.

"This morning we had some good running with a lot of laps," he said. "We improved the balance of the car from yesterday and I was much happier. In the afternoon, we then did quite a lot of tests with the tyres. On the long runs they behaved quite differently and the biggest problem was with the graining.

"It happens very quickly, then gets worse and the grip never comes back. We are talking big differences in lap times - I have never had such a big graining issue, but I can see nearly everyone is struggling with a similar problem."

While Force India and Renault have now left to return to their respective factories, the rest of the teams will continue to test at Jerez on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Jerez:
1. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:19.945
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:20.250
3. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:20.520
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:20.540
5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:20.894
6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:20.948
7. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:21.302
8. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.411