Lewis leads the way in Jerez

lrg-import- 1dm0620Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton stamped his authority on the timing sheets on the penultimate day of testing in Jerez, edging out Sebastian Vettel as the quickest driver in a 2009-specification car.

The McLaren driver completed 93 laps behind the wheel of his new MP4-24 posting a best time of 1:20.737 a mere one 0.001 seconds ahead of the increasingly impressive Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull Racing’s new Adrian Newey-designed RB5.

“Today’s test gave me the first opportunity to drive MP4-24 in warm, dry conditions – and I’m very encouraged by what I felt,” Hamilton said.

“The car feels strong, very similar to last year’s car, in fact. It doesn’t take long to get used to the new buttons in the cockpit [KERS & front-wing flaps] but the real test for everyone now is to understand the slick tyres ahead of the first race in Melbourne next month.”

Recently confirmed Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Bourdais ended the day quickest by virtue of the fact that the team have yet to run their 2009 car and were enjoying the benefits of last year’s downforce levels.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima was fourth fastest behind Hamilton and Vettel but ahead of Fernando Alonso who has yet to show his true pace behind the wheel of his revised Renault R29.

“Today was all about getting mileage on the car, especially with the new KERS system,” said Alonso.

“It was my first full dry day in the car and so I was able to learn a lot. We completed lots of laps, which is encouraging and now we will start working on the set-up of the car so that I can get more comfortable with it.”

Today’s times:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:18.493  128
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:20.737   93
 3.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault     (B)   1:20.738   92
 4.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota      (B)   1:20.898   92
 5.  Alonso        Renault              (B)   1:21.307  133