Heikki Kovalainen has topped the timesheets for McLaren on the final day of Jerez testing – but the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers ran him close with another strong showing.
The Finn put in a fastest lap of 1:18.385, more than three tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival Sebastian Bourdais, while testing aero parts during another scorching-hot day.
Red Bull’s David Coulthard was in third place on 1:19.494, continuing the successful work done over the previous two days by colleague Mark Webber.
GP2 ace and Renault test driver Romain Grosjean was fourth, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa fifth and Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima sixth on the unofficial timesheet.
Jenson Button took over the car from his Honda team-mate Rubens Barrichello for the final day of testing to come ninth of ten cars with a fastest lap of 1:20.532, his only consolation being that the one team Honda did beat was Japanese rival Toyota.
Red Bull said of the Jerez test: “1,742 kilometres completed in four days and five 18-hour days for our test team, all carried out in boiling hot weather. It has been a tough but very productive time, with the large distances covered showing that reliability was good throughout.
“After Sebastien Buemi and Mark Webber, it was David Coulthard’s turn to strap himself into the cockpit of RB4 for the final day.
“While the programme earlier in the week included long-term development and assessment of the 2009 slick tyres, DC focused exclusively on the forthcoming races of this season, only running this year’s tyres to end up third quickest on the day.
“The testing ban now comes into force, which means the next outing for the test team takes place at the Monza circuit at the end of August.”
Honda’s Jenson Button said: “We ran the car with our latest aero and suspension developments today to complete the evaluations which have been ongoing all week.
“The new parts have made a small but tangible improvement to the stability of the car, which is particularly evident over longer runs, so it has been a positive day.
“It will be interesting to see how this translates over the race weekend in Hungary.”
Steve Clark, the team’s head of race and test engineering, added: “This week’s test in Jerez has been particularly busy for the team with developments in all areas including aerodynamic, engine, suspension, brakes and tyres.
“We have successfully completed an ambitious programme over the four-day test, in intensely hot weather conditions, which is very satisfying.
“The significant upgrade to the rear suspension, which also brings an incorporated aero gain, has been evaluated by all three drivers who concur that the braking stability of the RA108 has improved.
“This is an issue which has previously prevented us from achieving a good balance on the car and, as well as being a gain for the remainder of this season, it will give us a strong direction for the 2009 car development.
“Also relevant to the 2009 car was the evaluation of the slick tyres by Alex. Using both compounds, we gained an important insight into what will be need to best exploit the tyres next year.”
At time of writing McLaren had issued no testing report.
Day four timesheet:
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:18.385 (116 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:18.746 (113 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:19.494 (93 laps)
- Romain Grosjean, Renault: 1:19.561 (90 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari : 1:19.611 (92 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:19.724 (100 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:19.915 (99 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India: 1:19.965 (72 laps)
- Jenson Button, 1:20.532 (98 laps)
- Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota: 1:20.878 (90 laps)