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F1 NEWS 

McLaren set '09 car pace in Jerez

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, Jerez test, 2009McLaren moved ahead of Red Bull in the times on day two of testing at Jerez, as the the battle to develop 2009's breed of Formula One cars continued. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi once again set the pace for Toro Rosso at the Spanish track.

The Swiss rookie, who lowered his mark to 1:17.591, completed a full grand prix simulation, including refuelling and safety car procedures, as the team set about building up its databank on the new slick tyres. It also worked some more on a new rear suspension.

"This has been a useful couple of days for me, running in wet and dry conditions," said Buemi. "Even though we are still in the '08 car, I have learned a lot in terms of how we operate over a race weekend, as we simulated a qualifying session and the
race.

"It was good preparation and now, all we need is our new car," he added.

Buemi now hands over to Sebastien Bourdais for the remainder of the test.

Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest man in an '09 machine, although his MP4-24 was fitted with a modified '08 rear wing as the team are still waiting for a new high-downforce version.

The Finn did several long runs, lapping more than a second faster than yesterday as he became more comfortable with the characteristics and setup of the car. He will now step aside for Lewis Hamilton to continue development.

Mark Webber was third fastest in the new RB5, the Australian claiming afterwards that his return to the cockpit was easier than he had anticipated following his recovery from a broken leg (see separate story).

Kazuki Nakajima was fourth fastest, less than two tenths slower than Webber, as he got his first proper taste of the Williams FW31. The Japanese also focussed on setup optimisation and an in-depth tyre programme.

Williams technical director Sam Michael said: "Kazuki covered over 550kms while undertaking mechanical set-up tests. He also completed a full race simulation without issue."

Renault's Nelson Piquet had another frustrating day for Renault, completing just 49 laps with the R29. The Brazilian did however close the gap to other 2009 cars lapping just over half a second off Nakajima's time.

"The track conditions were better today and we continued with the work we did yesterday, learning about the car and beginning some basic set-up work," said Piquet. "Again we didn't do as many laps as we would have liked as we lost some time after lunch, but we still learnt some interesting things. The weather looks good for the rest of the week so the team should be able to get some more important data tomorrow and Friday."

Fernando Alonso takes over from Piquet and will conduct the remainder of Renault's testing this week.

Today's times:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time      Laps
 1.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:17.591  143
 2.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:20.799  110
 3.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault     (B)   1:21.321  83
 4.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota      (B)   1:21.451  125
 5.  Piquet        Renault              (B)   1:21.908  49
 
All Timing Unofficial
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