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Jerez day three - Alguersuari puts Toro Rosso top 12 Feb 2010

Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Friday 12 February 2010. Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault R30. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Friday 12 February 2010. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Friday 12 February 2010. Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Friday 12 February 2010. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Friday 12 February 2010.

Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari led the times in a rain-hit session at Jerez on Friday as this week’s four-day test continued in Spain. Algueruari’s best lap of 1m 19.919s, set in the first hour before the weather worsened, put him eight-tenths clear of BMW Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa. Conditions deteriorated as the day progressed, prompting many teams to wind up their programmes early.

For Alguersuari it was his first taste of this year’s rain tyres, the Catalan driver completing long runs on both intermediates and wets without error or any reliability problems with the STR5.

Commenting on De la Rosa’s progress, BMW Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara said: "We managed to do a baseline run in the dry and later focused on balancing the car in the wet. We scanned different set-ups and worked on the brake system. Pedro's comments on the car were quite positive in the wet. Nevertheless we certainly hope for better and dry track conditions tomorrow."

At Force India Adrian Sutil's programme followed on from Tonio Liuzzi's schedule of the previous two days, with systems checks, long runs and set-up evaluation. The heavy rain and frequent red flags compromised some of the schedule, however, and Sutil completed 48 laps before an electrical fault halted him on track some 90 minutes before the end of the session.

“The car is good and I think it's a positive place to start,” said the German, who was third fastest. “I'm very confident on the general speed of the car. Unfortunately the rain came in quite early and then it was really waiting for reasonable conditions to go out. We had a problem in the afternoon that caused us to miss a bit of track time, but considering it was so wet it would have been very difficult to get a lot of running in anyway. I'm pleased to at least have had some dry running and some more time in the car and am looking forward to getting started again tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa was on duty for Ferrari, having his third day at the wheel of the F10. The Brazilian was only able to complete around 20 laps on dry tyres before having to run only with rain tyres, both intermediates and wets. He completed a total of 72 laps on his way to fourth in the times.

Sebastian Vettel drove Red Bull’s 2010 challenger, the RB6, for the first time, as he took over from Mark Webber. The German, who will be in the car again on Saturday, finished fifth fastest.

“After three months, it was good to come back and drive the car - it felt okay and we didn’t have any big issues,” he commented. “Obviously the weather is not ideal for us to find out more about the car, but we knew the rain was coming so we didn’t mess around this morning and went straight out to do some laps. It then rained all day, but you could face these conditions in a Grand Prix, so it’s important to do laps in the wet. Overall, we didn’t do enough because of the weather, but I’m pretty happy.”

Renault adapted their programme to allow new driver Vitaly Petrov to complete 68 laps acclimatising to the R30 in the wet and to carry out some practice starts. The Russian finished sixth in the times.

"In the morning we managed to do a bit of dry running and the car felt good and well balanced,” reported Petrov. “Then, when the rain arrived, we did quite a lot of work as it was important for me to understand how the car behaves in the wet conditions and the characteristics of the wet and intermediate Bridgestone tyres. That went well and we also did a lot of practice starts as I learn the procedures and systems on the car."

Nico Rosberg, seventh, was back at the wheel of Mercedes’ MGP W01, evaluating intermediate and wet tyres, alongside race simulation exercises. Michael Schumacher will take over from his fellow German for the final day of the test.

"It's unfortunate that it was once again a wet day today but we still achieved some valuable testing working on our race weekend procedures such as pit stops and pit entries,” said Rosberg. “The positive side is that I felt very much home in the car and could attack on the half lap that I did in the dry so that gives me confidence and a good feeling for the test days ahead."

Rubens Barrichello was eighth fastest for Williams in the FW32. “We basically only had a few laps in the dry this morning but then the rest of our running was done in the wet, so it was hard to find where the limit was and evaluate our performance,” said the Brazilian. “I’m looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow and getting some more mileage in.”

Technical director Sam Michael added: “We went straight into a race run on slick tyres in the morning as we knew we would only have a short window before the rain came. After that, it was a wet programme for the rest of the day. We spent the session working on control strategies, systems checks, race starts and a couple of small set-up changes. We had no mechanical problems.”

Lewis Hamilton, back in the cockpit for McLaren, was ninth. He used his only dry laps to conduct low-speed aero mapping runs, before the team switched to wet tyre evaluations, including some longer runs in the afternoon.

Finally, Virgin had another frustrating day after Thursday’s front wing problems. The spare parts they needed to remedy the problem did not arrive in time to get in any dry running and Lucas di Grassi managed just eight wet laps in the VR-01.

“This was particularly annoying given the great efforts by Wirth Research who, rather than just dispatching existing parts from our Bicester base, designed and manufactured new parts, R&D tested them and got them out to the circuit within a 24 hour period,” explained technical director Nick Wirth. “The drivers remain positive, the data we are gathering is as expected and we’re all keeping our heads down and just getting on with what we need to do at this early stage in our development.”

The Jerez test will conclude on Saturday, when more rain is expected.

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:19.919, 76 Laps
2. Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:20.736, 58 Laps
3. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.428, 48 Laps
4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:21.603, 72 Laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:21.783, 59 Laps
6. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:22.000, 68 Laps
7. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:22.820, 53 Laps
8. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:23.217, 120 Laps
9. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.985, 68 Laps
10. Lucas di Grassi, Virgin, 1:37.107, 8 Laps