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Hamilton on top as F1 testing ends

Lewis Hamilton rounded off his pre-season preparations with a strong performance on the final day of testing at Barcelona in Spain on Sunday - setting the quickest time and delivering an impressive race distance simulation run

Getting his first taste of the raft of aerodynamic updates that McLaren brought to the MP4-25 on Saturday, Hamilton spent the morning focusing on qualifying simulation work.

His best time of 1m20.472 came while most of his potential title rivals were working on qualifying simulations too - and showed how competitive the field will be this year at least in terms of single lap pace.

In the afternoon, Hamilton switched to a race distance simulation run - completing it with two stops and without any dramas. More importantly, it was consistently fast and showed that McLaren appears to be in good shape for the first race of the season.

Behind Hamilton, Mark Webber ended the day just 0.024 seconds behind on the timesheets - having taken over the RB6 from team-mate Sebastian Vettel after the lunch break.

Red Bull Racing's problems on Saturday had forced the team to change its original programme, and Vettel had tried out some low fuel simulations in the morning to set what would ultimately be the fifth fastest time. Webber undertook a varied programme in the afternoon - running through both qualifying simulations and longer runs to round off his team's preparations for the season.

Felipe Massa ended the day third overall on the timesheets - just 0.067 seconds behind Hamilton's best effort, as he too spent the day working on qualifying in the morning and an attempted race distance run in the afternoon.

His race distance run did not go as smoothly as Hamilton's - being broken up into four separate stints. Nevertheless, Ferrari will have been pleased with how the F10's winter testing programme has gone - with many in the paddock still believing that the Italian outfit is the favourite for the start of the season.

Adrian Sutil continued to show evidence that Force India has made progress with its new car as he set the fourth quickest time during an afternoon qualifying simulation. Although track conditions were slightly better in the afternoon - with wind and dust in the morning having left the circuit low on grip - his strong day was encouraging for the German.

Behind Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher was sixth fastest - albeit just 0.273 seconds behind Hamilton's best effort as he too conducted a race simulation run in the afternoon.

"The four testing days here in Barcelona have helped us to make significant progress with the MGP W01 and I am feeling quite confident for the start of the season," Schumacher said.

"It is always difficult to read too much into testing but knowing our programme, it is fair to say that the times did not always reflect the true picture. We have worked through many set-up and development evaluations this week and gained valuable information to study before Bahrain.

"We are heading the first race with a good feeling and we know that we will have our upgrades there. But most of all we know that our prospects for even the first races are looking very reasonable now."

Rubens Barrichello ended the day seventh overall on the timesheets, having run through some qualifying simulations in the afternoon. His day was far from incident free, however, after he spun off in the gravel in the morning and then stopped out on track late in the afternoon.

Kamui Kobayashi was eighth fastest for Sauber, having spent the day working through a series of short runs in his C29. Sebastien Buemi was another driver playing around with set-ups and mechanical tweaks as he ended up ninth overall.

Robert Kubica got his first taste of the updates that his Renault team had brought to the car for this week's Barcelona test as he ended up 10th overall - but he focused on a race run and never bothered with an all-out qualifying run when the track was at its best.

Formula 1's newest teams ended the day at the bottom of the timesheets, but both had an encouraging day in terms of reliability. Heikki Kovalainen was 11th fastest for Lotus with at time of 1m25.251s, while Lucas di Grassi was 12th quickest with a best of 1m26.160s.

"It was a game of two halves as they say; we had a good morning where we were able to complete all our plans but a problem with the programme change on the gearbox delayed us in the afternoon, which meant we weren't able to do as much running as we wanted," said Lotus's tech boss Mike Gascoyne.

"Overall, however, the test has been extremely productive - in general we've had very good reliability, and the team is in very good shape going to the first race.

"Considering the length of time we've had to work on the project it's a fantastic effort from the whole team. Everyone has worked exceptionally hard over the two tests and we now have to work on the pace of the car and improve that, but it's been a tremendous effort from the whole team and I'm very proud of them."

Today's times:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:20.472  134
 2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:20.496   59
 3.  Massa         Ferrari              (B)  1:20.539  113
 4.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes (B)  1:20.611   99
 5.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:20.667   76
 6.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)  1:20.745  122
 7.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth    (B)  1:20.870   83
 8.  Kobayashi     BMW-Sauber           (B)  1:20.911   67
 9.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:22.135   87
10.  Kubica        Renault              (B)  1:23.175  106
11.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth       (B)  1:25.251   65
12.  di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth      (B)  1:26.160   47

All Timing Unofficial

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