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Final test heralds countdown to Bahrain 25 Feb 2010

Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 25 February 2010. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams FW32. leads Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 25 February 2010. Fairuz Fauzy (MAL) Lotus T127. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 25 February 2010. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 25 February 2010. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 25 February 2010.

In just over two weeks’ time everyone will be assembled on the Sakhir grid readying themselves for the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix. But before the curtain is raised on the 2010 season, the teams have once more chance to make last-minute on-track developments and improve their cars at this week’s test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

Although the weather is set to be a lot better at the Spanish circuit than that the teams endured last week at Jerez, scattered showers are forecast in the area from Thursday, when the four-day test begins. Those in attendance will be hoping the rain holds off long enough for them to wrap up their pre-season programmes.

The test will be especially important for 2010 newcomers Virgin, who have covered very limited mileage since debuting the VR-01 earlier this month. The team managed just 144 laps at Jerez last week after hydraulic problems repeatedly halted their running. With new parts on the way for Barcelona, technical director Nick Wirth is hopeful they’ll be able to boost their reliability ahead of Bahrain.

At the other end of the spectrum are Ferrari, widely tipped as current frontrunners in terms of pace and reliability. Although they’ve already covered over 5,300 kilometres during the opening three test sessions, they are keen to complete more and plan to bring several aero updates to the test. Fernando Alonso will be in the F10’s cockpit for the opening two days before team mate Felipe Massa takes over.

McLaren will also be in action, with team mates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton taking charge of the MP4-25 on alternate days. Button, the fastest runner at Jerez last week, will drive on Thursday and Saturday, while Hamilton will be behind the wheel on Friday and Sunday. Both drivers will evaluate new bodywork and aerodynamic components.

Force India will continue to prepare the VJM03, with Vitantonio Liuzzi in charge of the team’s programme on Thursday and Friday, before Adrian Sutil takes over for the final two days. Renault, meanwhile, will field Vitaly Petrov during the opening two days and team mate Robert Kubica for the final two.

According to chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne, Lotus will concentrate on the T127’s set-up and performance over their four days at the track, after confirming its reliability at Jerez. The car completed 1,395 kilometres in the hands of drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli during its maiden test last week. Red Bull, BMW Sauber, Mercedes GP, Toro Rosso and Williams will all be back in action too.

Note that all schedules are provisional and subject to change. Check back throughout the week for updates on the teams’ testing progress and the latest images.