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Jerez day five - Williams and McLaren impress as test ends 20 Mar 2009

Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31 Formula One Testing, 19 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 Formula One Testing, 19 March 2009, Jerez, Spain.

Just Williams and McLaren were on track as pre-season testing drew to a close at Jerez in Spain on Thursday. And the timesheets suggested that both teams are likely to be very much in the mix when the racing finally gets underway in Melbourne next weekend.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima clocked the fastest lap of the week, a 1m 17.494s, bettering the previous times set by Renault and Brawn GP, and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen also dipped under the 1m 18s barrier, allaying fears that the British team could struggle for pace in Australia.

New components, which arrived from the McLaren Technology Centre overnight, were fitted to Kovalainen’s MP4-24 for the session, receiving productive feedback.

Nakajima worked on final preparations of the FW31 ahead of the 2009 season, including set-up tuning, aero work, reliability checks and tyre testing.

“I think we’ve had a successful run of winter testing," said Nakajima. "We’ve managed to put a lot of mileage on the car, mainly because we haven’t experienced any reliability issues. The team have done a lot of work on the car throughout this process and it’s looking quite good, but we will have to wait to see where everyone really is."

In fine conditions, Nakajima and Kovalainen completed 102 and 84 laps respectively. Their next track appearances will be in Friday practice at Albert Park on March 27.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams FW31, 1:17.494
2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren MP4-24, 1:17.946