Webber tops test charts in Spain

The speed twins of the Red Bull family continued their pacey ways as Mark Webber took over from teammate-to-be Sebastian Vettel on Thursday as fastest in Formula One testing at Jerez del la Frontera, Spain. Webber, whose current teammate David...

The speed twins of the Red Bull family continued their pacey ways as Mark Webber took over from teammate-to-be Sebastian Vettel on Thursday as fastest in Formula One testing at Jerez del la Frontera, Spain.

Webber, whose current teammate David Coulthard has announced his racing retirement effective at the end of the season, drove the RB4 to a fast lap of 1 minute, 19.176 seconds in covering 85 laps and conducting aerodynamic development and suspension tests. Vettel, fast man of the Red Bull offspring Scuderia Toro Rosso the first two days of the four-day test, was below the 1:19 mark Wednesday. Vettel gave way to Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais on Thursday. Bourdais was sixth-quick.

"We've had a pretty good two days here," Webber said. "The car ran pretty reliably, and we've clocked up some good mileage. Today we were mostly getting ready for Budapest, as well as looking at developments for a little later in the season. Yesterday we were focusing more on '09, and it was quite a challenging day. Today was better in terms of what we learned mechanically and aerodynamically. It's been a hot week for the guys working here, and they've done a good job."

Air and track temperatures at the track in sunny southern Spain cooled slightly Thursday, air temperatures reaching a high of around 90 Fahrenheit with the track reaching only 115, lower than on the previous days.

Nelsinho Piquet continued at the wheel of the R28 for Renault, bringing out a red flag with a wall-banging off. He followed Webber on unofficial time sheets with a 1:19.334, a tenth quicker than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, sixth-place finisher in Sunday's German Grand Prix, who ran a 1:19.434 in working on setup for the Hungarian Grand Prix in another fortnight.

"We have done many tests over these two days to try and understand what happened at Hockenheim, and now we have a clearer idea on this matter," Raikkonen said. "Today the car had improved compared to yesterday, and we hope to be ready for the next rounds. Our opponents are very strong, but there is still a long way to go in this championship and all the time to recover, given that in Formula One things can change a lot in no time at all."

Like teammate Felipe Massa, Raikkonen remarks as issued by Ferrari public relations officers refer to "our opponents" or "our main rivals." They mean McLaren Mercedes, outpaced by Ferrari in this week's test for the first time Thursday. Veteran test driver Pedro de la Rosa ran fifth-quick behind Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The Italian finished the day just ahead of Spaniard De la Rosa, who brought out the first red flag of the day when he ran off track at the chicane early in the day. The Spaniard also spent time evaluating new development parts on the MP4-23, including BMW Sauber-style nose horn wings. Liuzzi, who has praised VJM01's new gearbox, posted a 1:19.544; De la Rosa in the MP4-23 a 1:19.850.

Sebastien Bourdais in the Toro Rosso STR3 posted a 1:20.029, Kazuki Nakajima in the Williams FW30 a 1:20.097, and Timo Glock in the Toyota TF108 a 1:20.421. Next came Rubens Barrichello in the Honda RA108 in 1:20.614, and Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber F1.08 in1:20.896.

Nakajima covered 88 laps in continuing setup evaluations for Hungary. In the afternoon, he ran slick tires.

Glock was back in the Toyota after a heavy crash in the German Grand Prix that sent him to hospital. He stopped traffic near midday when the TF108 quit on course.

Barrichello continued rear suspension evaluation and ran a number of new bodywork parts as part of the aerodynamic package under evaluation for forthcoming races. Barrichello completed 68 laps, having to stop on course at the end of the day with a suspected engine problem.

Nick Heidfeld ran the F1.08 with 2009-spec slick tires and collected aerodynamic and mechanical data for development of next year's car. He covered 97 laps.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Felipe Massa , Sébastien Bourdais , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Timo Glock , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams