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28 Feb 2010

Barcelona day four - Hamilton in charge on final day

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 28 February 2010. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 28 February 2010. Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM03. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 28 February 2010. Lucas di Grassi (BRA) Virgin Racing VR-01. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 28 February 2010. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 28 February 2010.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was the quickest runner as pre-season testing drew to a close at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday. Hamilton clocked a best time of 1m 20.472s around the Spanish circuit and finished over two-hundredths of a second ahead of the second-placed Red Bull of Mark Webber.

The British driver spent the morning fine-tuning the MP4-25’s set-up and carrying out simulated qualifying runs. After lunch, he ran through a race simulation. He covered 134 laps in total.

Webber, meanwhile, was only on track during the afternoon. His team mate Sebastian Vettel was in action during the morning following his disrupted session on Saturday. Webber covered 61 laps, whilst Vettel, who finished in fifth on the timesheets, completed 76 laps.

Felipe Massa was third fastest for Ferrari after covering 114 laps in the F10. Force India’s Adrian Sutil ended the day in fourth. Sutil worked through a full race programme, conducting a race simulation and qualifying runs, as well as aero and brake work.

“I feel like this was the first proper test day for me,” said the young German. “We did our long race simulation and I think we can be quite happy and confident. The pace was good, the tyre life was very good, and I was able to run a lot of laps on both the soft and hard tyres without any problems. Speed-wise the car is competitive and we have to show it in Bahrain now."

Michael Schumacher set the sixth quickest time of the day as he returned to the cockpit of Mercedes’ MGP W01. Schumacher spent the morning focusing on qualifying simulations and developing the set-up of the car, before working on race procedures throughout the afternoon. He completed 123 laps.

"The four testing days here in Barcelona have helped us to make significant progress with the MGP W01 and I am feeling quite confident for the start of the season,” said the German driver. “It is always difficult to read too much into testing but knowing our programme, it is fair to say that the times did not always reflect the true picture.

“We have worked through many set-up and development evaluations this week and gained valuable information to study before Bahrain. We are heading the first race with a good feeling and we know that we will have our upgrades there. But most of all we know that our prospects for even the first races are looking very reasonable now."

Seventh quickest was Rubens Barrichello in the Williams.

BMW Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi finished in eighth, after covering 67 laps in the C29. “Unfortunately our final day of testing was hampered by reliability problems,” said technical director Willy Rampf. “In the morning, it was a shifting problem, which needs to be analysed, and at the end it was a problem in the fuel system. Certainly both can be solved before Bahrain.

“In Barcelona we have been testing new aero parts, which confirmed the performance we expected after the wind tunnel tests. We also concentrated further on getting the best out of the mechanical set-ups. We have defined the Bahrain package now and feel ready for the season to kick off. We are very much looking forward to finally going racing.”

Ninth fastest was Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi. “I am pleased with my two days here in Barcelona,” said Buemi. “Today, we concentrated on doing a scan of various mechanical set-up options as well as some aero work. Overall, I think we are in good shape and now I’m looking forward to the first race to see where we stand compared to everyone else.”

Renault’s Robert Kubica took up seventh on the timesheets. “Our final day of testing was a mixed one as we suffered a problem with the gearbox on the installation lap, which limited our running,” explained Renault’s chief engineer Alan Permane. “We managed to get back out at the end of the morning to evaluate some new aero parts and also worked on improving the set-up of the car. For the afternoon we tried to cover a race distance, and although it was interrupted, we did cover the desired number of laps. To end the day we returned to our set-up programme.”

Over two seconds down on the Polish driver was Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen, who completed 65 laps in the T127. "It was a game of two halves as they say,” explained chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “We had a good morning where we were able to complete all our plans but a problem with the programme change on the gearbox delayed us in the afternoon, which meant we weren't able to do as much running as we wanted. Overall, however, the test has been extremely productive - in general we've had very good reliability, and the team is in very good shape going to the first race.”

Completing the day's runners was Lucas di Grassi for Virgin.

With the final multi-team test of the winter now over, the teams will return to their factories to finalise their preparations for the Bahrain Grand Prix, which will take place at Sakhir from 12-14 March.

Unofficial Sunday times from Barcelona:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:20.472, 134 Laps
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:20.496, 61 Laps
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.539, 114 Laps
4. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:20.611, 100 Laps
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:20.667, 76 Laps
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:20.745, 123 Laps
7. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:20.870, 84 Laps
8. Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber, 1:20.911, 67 Laps
9. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:22.135, 88 Laps
10. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:23.175, 107 Laps
11. Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, 1:25.251, 65 Laps
12. Lucas di Grassi, Virgin, 1:26.160, 49 Laps