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Raikkonen sets blistering pace at Valencia (with pictures)

NEWS STORY
01/03/2006

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen set a blistering pace at Valencia today, the Woking outfit's final day of pre-season testing.

The Finn's best time of 1:09.423 beat the previous best - posted by the Finn in mid-February - by 0.564s

Kimi's programme saw the Finn continue set-up development work in the MP4-21 with his race engineer in preparation for the opening Grands Prix.

The track was wet at the beginning of the day, from overnight rain, and this allowed the test team and Pedro de la Rosa to work on the development programme for the intermediate Michelin tyres. As the track dried out, the Spaniard switched to dry tyres and concentrated on achieving a good mileage total for the day.

"We have had a productive couple of days in Valencia this week, and we had some good pace with the car today and I set the fastest time," said the Finn, "but testing is very different to being on the race track.

"The work this week was pretty much the same as at previous tests, focusing on the set-up of the car with my race engineer Mark Slade, alongside some tyre selection with Michelin.

"Since we first ran the car, the test team has worked so hard on track so that we could put as much mileage on the MP4-21 and push the programme forward much as possible before the first race. I have completed eleven-and-a-half test days in the MP4-21, and covered just over 3250km during these days. I am now looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in Bahrain next week and driving the car in a competitive environment to see where we really are performance wise."

Third fastest, behind the two McLarens, and 0.878s off the pace, was Anthony Davidson in the Honda. After yesterday's 146 laps, the Englishman was once again the busiest man today, putting another 143 laps on the RA106.

David Coulthard, who pulled out of last week's Barcelona test as a result of a trapped nerve in his back, was back in the hot-seat once again today, as he drove the RBR2 which will be used as T-car in Bahrain.

There were three main elements to Red Bull's programme today: general aerodynamic work in the morning, Michelin tyre testing aimed at the Australian Grand Prix in the afternoon and putting more kilometres on the engine specification, which will be used in Bahrain in just over one week's time.

"The day was not entirely trouble free," admitted Chief Test Engineer, Ian Morgan. "But we still managed to put quite a few miles on the engine and we did make some progress."

Toyota drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were at the wheel to resume final race preparations and testing of the Bridgestone tyres. Both will continue testing tomorrow to conclude the pre-season test programme.

"After really first testing the new car in Barcelona, where the weather was rather cold, it was good to have another chance to drive the new TF106 today," said the German. "We continued working on the tyres and although we had less mileage today than expected due to a minor electronic problem, the car stayed reliable and so in general we are happy with the day's programme."

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