The Battle of the Sebs at Toro Rosso has a clear victor. Der Seb, young Mr Vettel, has beaten Le Seb, young Mr Bourdais, hands down after topping the rankings on the fourth day of Jerez testing.
Despite Bourdais asserting himself on day one, Vettel was the faster on days two and three, before coming home ahead of Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher while on slick tyres during day four.
Of course, as Red Bull have already been at pains to point out, and Toro Rosso would no doubt agree, lap times are just Not All That Important during testing. And Bourdais was on grooved tyres.
But for those expecting the four-time Champ Car champion to wipe the floor with his relatively inexperienced new team-mate, well, things aren’t quite going according to the script.
It was a quiet day for the Brits, with McLaren not showing up at all, David Coulthard in the RB3-03 for Red Bull posting the 10th-fastest time and Anthony Davidson, back in the saddle for Honda, posting the 11th-fastest.
Red Bull’s verdict: “Here in Jerez, a foggy and damp morning delayed proceedings slightly, but once underway, apart from a couple of hours lost with a technical problem, David Coulthard worked exclusively on developing the 2008 electronic systems on the car.”
Ian Morgan, the team’s chief test engineer, said: “In general, this four-day session has been very productive.
“We have been moving in the right direction in terms of working with the 2008 electronics and it is an encouraging way to end the year. Now, the test team is looking forward to getting its hands on the new car.”
Honda said that its engineers had asked Anthony Davidson, “a member of the wider Honda family,” to further evaluate the 2009 slick tyres.
Steve Clark, its head of race and test engineering, said: “This week’s test was our second session with the new electronics system. Recent work on the engine dyno has rectified the power delivery issues that we identified three weeks ago in Barcelona and has seen us make good progress on the track.
“This, and other work underway to adapt to the 2008 electronics regulations, is useful preparation ahead of the debut of the RA108 early next year and for this reason it has been a very productive test.”
Times on day four:
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:18.213 (100 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW-Sauber: 1:18.410 (119 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:18.796 (97 laps)
- Michael Schumacher, Ferrari: 1:19.136 (58 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:19.611 (76 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:19.961 (59 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:20.000 (45 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:20.033 (87 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:20.229 (69 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:20.657 (72 laps)
- Anthony Davidson, Honda: 1:20.821 (102 laps)
- Takuma Sato, Super Aguri: 1:21.092 (87 laps)
- Marko Asmer, BMW-Sauber: 1:21.333 (81 laps)
- Giedo van der Garde, Force India: 1:22.321 (87 laps)
- Roldan Rodriguez, Force India: 1:22.508 (82 laps)