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Barcelona day three - Rosberg on top for Mercedes GP 27 Feb 2010

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 27 February 2010. Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 27 February 2010. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 27 February 2010. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 27 February 2010. Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 27 February 2010.

The weather made life difficult for the 11 teams testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday, as sporadic rain hampered their programmes at the Spanish circuit. Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg ended the day at the top of the timesheets with a best time of 1m 21.686s, which he set before the rain began to fall.

Rosberg spent the morning working on qualifying simulations and developing the MGP W01’s set-up, before carrying out a race simulation exercise in the afternoon. He completed 128 laps.

"We had a good day today and made some significant progress in terms of set-up, which was nice to see,” he explained. “We hadn't got the most out of the car in terms of performance over the last couple of days, but we made a step in the right direction today. We went through some big changes this morning step by step and found some good improvements. The longer runs this afternoon were interesting. We learnt a lot as there were other cars running similar programmes at the same time so we were able to do some comparisons. There is still plenty of room to improve but overall we're looking in pretty good shape."

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi finished over seven-tenths of a second adrift of the German driver. “Despite the rain, my first day in Barcelona has gone well,” said Buemi. “Carrying out a race simulation was very useful and it was particularly interesting to see how the tyre behaviour changed depending on the fuel load. In the races, it will be important to drive smoothly, as on full tanks it is very easy to damage the tyres if you slide too much.”

Jenson Button was third fastest for McLaren on his final day in the MP4-25 before handing the car over to team mate Lewis Hamilton. Button spent the morning conducting a number of shorter installation runs to establish set-up, before completing a race simulation in the afternoon.

Rubens Barrichello took fourth for Williams. “We covered 101 laps today, which is always good,” said Barrichello. “Unfortunately, we had some rain during the day which affected the programme a little bit. Everything that the team has brought to this test seems to be working well, so it’s been a positive day altogether.”

Felipe Massa was on duty for Ferrari at the wheel of the F10. Massa completed 115 laps on his way to fifth in the times. The Brazilian focused on set-up work in the morning, before carrying out a race simulation after lunch.

Vitaly Petrov, sixth, covered 68 laps in Renault’s R30. "Another day of changing weather so we lost some time in the morning with the rain, but fortunately it was dry in the afternoon,” said Petrov. “We had a lot planned as it was my last day in the car before Bahrain and we did some good work and we've improved the car quite a bit."

Adrian Sutil finished in seventh for Force India, ahead of eighth-placed Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull. “We were late out this morning as we had a few technical issues following the overnight rebuild, which carried over into the planned programme for today,” explained Ian Morgan, Red Bull’s head of race engineering. “Once we were running in the afternoon we got three or four positive tests completed looking at set-up directions for Bahrain, which gave us some clear results - so we ended the session in much better shape.”

Jarno Trulli finished in ninth in the Lotus after covering 102 laps. With Trulli completing a full race distance, the team felt satisfied with their progress. “Another productive day with Jarno,” said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “We successfully completed our whole programme with the changeable conditions and have had two very useful days with Jarno in the car.”

Kamui Kobayashi took tenth for BMW Sauber. "It would have been more convenient to do the race simulation with ideal track conditions,” explained Kobayashi, who completed 105 laps in the C29. “On the other hand it was an even better practice because we had to do additional tyre changes due to the weather, and every pit stop helps to improve our skills in communications and procedures."

Finally, Virgin had another frustrating day, with Timo Glock only managing to cover 31 laps on his way to 11th on the timesheets.

“A couple of assembly issues affected our programme today,” explained Virgin’s technical director Nick Wirth. “The gearbox problem delayed our start and by the time we were ready to run, the rain came along. We used the changeable conditions up to lunchtime working through a programme of control system preparation for Bahrain and we were looking forward to a more productive afternoon.

“However, lunchtime checks revealed a cut fuel system seal, which meant we had to pull the engine off to replace it. We used the remaining time this afternoon to complete a few more interesting tests with Timo. We’re hoping that our planets will align tomorrow to allow us a smooth final day of testing before we head into our debut Grand Prix in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.”

The Barcelona test will conclude on Sunday.

Unofficial Saturday times from Barcelona:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:20.686, 128 Laps
2. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:21.413, 106 Laps
3. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:21.450, 105 Laps
4. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:21.975, 101 Laps
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.344, 115 Laps
6. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:22.523, 68 Laps
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:22.606, 61 Laps
8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.123, 51 Laps
9. Jarno Trulli, Lotus, 1:25.059, 102 Laps
10. Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber, 1:26.216, 105 Laps
11. Timo Glock, Virgin, 1:26.305, 31 Laps