Sebastien Buemi has put the seal on a dominant week of testing at Jerez by topping the timesheets once again. Alongside fellow Toro Rosso hopeful Takuma Sato, he was the only driver to clock up a sub-1:18 time.
It now appears almost certain that the pairing will line up on the Melbourne grid in March for the team, leaving 2008 race driver and four-time Champ Car victor Sebastian Bourdais out of a job.
The first car to come in above 1:18 was Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren, in third place on 1:18.049. Following a spell at McLaren’s winter training camp in his native country, the Finn was working on tyre testing and aero mapping in a modified MP4-23.
Behind him, Ferrari’s big guns were blazing, as race drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa both took to the track to work on setup, engine life, tyre evaluation, and new component development on the F2009.
Renault’s Fernando Alonso, Williams’ Nico Rosberg and McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa were next in line, with the Williams driver pleased with his day’s work: “… probably more productive than those earlier in the week as the conditions were more consistent and, therefore, conducive to testing.
“We managed to cover a lot of ground, mainly on some important mechanical developments for 09, and for which we got some clear results, which is good. We also spent time learning the new aero components and the slick tyres.
“I covered a lot of laps on both days, which is always useful, and we had no reliability issues, which is great, considering how many new parts we’re running. Overall, it was a positive test.”
De la Rosa did not have a smooth day after taking over the KERS-equipped car from Kovalainen. He put in a best lap of 1:19.499 despite a series of minor problems with the KERS which limited him to 47 laps.
Bringing up the rear were Robert Kubica and Christian Klien for BMW Sauber who limited their running thanks to cold conditions.
Day three test times:
- Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: 1:17.258 (139 laps)
- Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso: 1:17.520 (119 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:18.049 (96 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:18.782 (82 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:19.050 (72 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:19.319 (124 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:19.388 (130 laps)
- Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren: 1:19.499 (47 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:19.559 (134 laps)
- Christian Klien, BMW Sauber: 1:19.738 (101 laps)