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Barcelona day four - dazzling Barrichello ends test on a high 12 Mar 2009

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn BGP 001 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 10 March 2009. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF109 spits flames. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 12 March 2009. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 12 March 2009. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 stops on circuit with a mechanical problem. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 12 March 2009. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 12 March 2009.

The potent pace of the Brawn BGP 001 continued to impress at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, as this week’s multi-team test - the last major session before the season opening Australian Grand Prix later this month - drew to a close.

Rubens Barrichello finished fastest in the newly-launched car, clocking a best time of 1m 18.926s to finish eight-tenths of a second ahead of Williams’ Nico Rosberg. After an initial delay due to heavy fog, the Spanish track basked in sunshine and Barrichello was able to cover 110 laps as he completed a race simulation. The team will test again at Jerez next week.

"We are extremely pleased with the inaugural test of the BGP 001 car in Barcelona this week,” said team owner Ross Brawn. “The team made a very late start to our pre-season testing programme with only seven days in which to run the car before the first race in Melbourne, therefore our focus has been on reliability and achieving as much mileage as possible.

“Both of these aims have been successfully achieved this week. That the car has run so reliably 'out of the box' is a tribute to the strong team that we have at our factory in Brackley and they have done a great job during a very difficult period. The car is performing to our expectations and the feedback from Jenson (Button) and Rubens has been positive with both drivers completing full race distances.”

Rosberg in second completed 120 laps in the FW31, as he carried out set-up work and reliability tests. Third quickest was Toyota’s Timo Glock, who covered 128 laps. Glock’s programme focused on the TF109’s set-up, and even though he stopped on the circuit with a mechanical problem on his last lap, the German was pleased.

"That was another useful day to round off our good winter of testing,” he said. “We did more work on set-up and long runs and everything went well until the very last lap! Still, overall the car feels strong and we seem to have good pace so we can look forward to Australia. Of course we'll only see the real results on Saturday in Melbourne but everyone at Toyota can be happy with our work so far.”

Sebastian Vettel completed 83 laps on his way to fourth in the times, as Red Bull completed their pre-season testing. Finishing just under a tenth down on the German was Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who ran 64 laps in the R29. Alonso evaluated components in an effort to improve the car's mechanical balance.

“We had a problem at the beginning of the afternoon and so we lost some track time, but overall I think it was an interesting day and we improved our understanding of the car,” said the Spaniard. “We tried some new development solutions and so today was not about outright performance but simply exploring new ideas for developing the car into the season.”

Felipe Massa finished sixth on Ferrari’s final test day. Massa worked through a programme of set-up adjustment checks and completed 92 laps. Seventh quickest was Robert Kubica for BMW Sauber. Kubica carried out a race simulation and covered 134 laps, bringing the F1.09’s total mileage for the week to 2,162 kms.

"Our final pre-season test was very productive,” said BMW Sauber's technical coordinator Willy Rampf. “We worked on the mechanical set-up of the car as well as the aero configuration. In addition, we also improved our KERS. Our second goal was to prepare for the season's first Grand Prix in two weeks in Melbourne. We simulated a proper race day on Tuesday with Nick Heidfeld and today with Robert Kubica, each covering a complete race distance without any technical problems."

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton finished in eighth. Hamilton covered 70 laps and concentrated his attentions on mechanical set-up. The team will test again at Jerez next week. Just over a tenth down on Hamilton was Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, who covered 62 laps in the STR4 before handing it over to team mate Sebastien Bourdais after lunch. Bourdais eventually finished in 11th.

Sandwiched between the two Toro Rosso drivers was Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella in tenth. As it was the team’s last day in action before the Australian Grand prix, Fisichella carried out a race weekend simulation and completed a mammoth 141 laps.

“It was a very good conclusion to the eight days of testing,” said Force India’s James Key. “Over the week we have completed more than 2,000km and have a very strong basis to start the season from. We don't have any major concerns and the car is now very reliable so we can really start to look at areas that will improve performance."

With the Barcelona test complete, the majority of teams will head back to their respective factories to continue preparations before travelling to Melbourne. For McLaren, Renault, Williams and Ross Brawn’s team, however, the on-track work will continue in Spain at Jerez next week.

Unofficial Thursday times from Barcelona:
1. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn BGP 001, 1:18.926
2. Nico Rosberg, Williams FW31, 1:19.774
3. Timo Glock, Toyota TF109, 1:20.091
4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull RB5, 1:20.576
5. Fernando Alonso, Renault R29, 1:20.664
6. Felipe Massa, Ferrari F60, 1:20.677
7. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber F1.09, 1:20.740
8. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-24, 1:20.869
9. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso STR4, 1:21.013
10. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India VJM02, 1:21.045
11. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso STR4, 1:21.629