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McLaren rules on day three at Sakhir

NEWS STORY
24/02/2007

McLaren topped the timesheets on the third day of testing at Sakhir, ahead of a two day break before the teams begin the final pre-season test before the 2007 World Championship gets underway.

The best time of the day was posted by world Champion Fernando Alonso, with teammate Lewis Hamilton just 0.100s behind, as the Woking team continued its development programme, making the most of the warm ambient and track temperatures.

Both drivers had on-track stoppages during the course of the day, Alonso with a hydraulics issue that was rectified by the team to allow the Spaniard to return to the circuit during the session, while Hamilton had an engine failure just an hour before the end of the session. However, according to the team the engine had completed over 1,200km and survived beyond its contingency mileage.

"It has been interesting to get the MP4-22 on track in consistent weather conditions," said Alonso. "We have been able to get a fuller understanding of the car and how it works in the warmer temperatures, including looking at areas such as the cooling system, which has been productive.

"It was also a chance for me to see the latest performance upgrades and we have useful feedback from the developments that have been incorporated. It was great to see some of the work that has been done on the test track and at the McLaren Technology Centre on the car, as we progress towards Australia. We have another three days next week in Bahrain and have to make the most of that time. There is, as always in Formula 1, still work to do."

"Alongside the overall test plan, which has seen us cover final sign-offs on elements such as software and the Melbourne specification, our time in Bahrain is also focusing on the Bridgestone Potenza evaluation in the higher temperatures," added Hamilton. "I haven't driven on the Bahrain track since 2004, so it is also really useful to get some laps in prior to the Grand Prix."

Behind the two McLarens were the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, both over 0.7s off Alonso's pace. The Italian team's programme centred on a long run test for the 056 engine, running over the distance of a double race weekend, comprehensive Grand Prix simulation, including pit stops, electronics, various set-up changes and comparison of various mechanical components.

After three days both drivers had completed their planned programmes. Massa had reached the mileage limit on his engine even before the lunch break and only got back on track towards the end of the afternoon, while Raikkonen finished his long run at the end of the day.

Heikki Kovalainen spent the day fine-tuning his preparations before the opening race of the year in three weeks' time. He concentrated on set-up evaluation with the car, conductive comparative tests to find an optimum handling balance and analysing the behaviour of the Bridgestone Potenza tyres.

Across the garage, Nelson Piquet Jr completed his pre-season work with further mechanical set-up testing, with the goal of evaluating as many different alternatives as possible, in order to collect data on chassis handling and tyre behaviour.

"After initially working on endurance and reliability this week, we then moved on to a set-up programme," said Christian Silk. "Everything went as well as we had hoped, and we completed our programme without any problems. This circuit is very different to those we have run on so far this winter, and our engineers have managed to complete a greater amount of testing than at any other session.

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