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Hamilton on top in final pre-season test

Lewis Hamilton made full use of a heavily revised MP4-25 to top the timesheets during the final day of pre-season testing.

Sunday’s session was the first time that Hamilton could get to grips with McLaren’s new aerodynamic package. However, the Brit took no time to adapt to the revised challenger and set a blistering 1m20.472 during a qualifying simulation.

McLaren’s pace was further emphasised in the afternoon, with Hamilton continuing to be fast, despite the team switching to a full race simulation.

Mark Webber was just 0.024 seconds behind in second, after taking over from his team-mate Sebastian Vettel after lunch. Although Red Bull’s program had been delayed over the last few days, due to technical failures, Vettel and Webber still set a healthy number of laps in the car ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa ended the day less than a tenth shy of Hamilton for Ferrari. Many F1-insiders have tipped the Scuderia to be the team to beat in Bahrain. However, the Brazilian was cautious in his comments after today’s session.

“I’m satisfied with the whole of testing, not just Barcelona,” said Massa. “Valencia and Jerez too – we did what we wanted to do, but it looks like it will be a very tough and competitive championship.

“We never expected to have an advantage and to go to the first race and win in an easy way, definitely not. We expect to have a competitive car, and this I think we have done. The car is reliable, but also consistent, and that is what we want to start the season.

“We are not here to be the champions of the pre-season. We are here to work on the car, to try to have a good championship and fighting for the championship.”

Michael Schumacher rounded off Mercedes’s testing program in sixth position. The German completed 122 laps over the course of the day, leading to team principal Ross Brawn declaring that the Silver Arrows are closer to the front than some have predicted.

“I think we’re close enough to have a go, but we’re not enjoying the situation we had last year. I don’t think anybody is.” he said.

“At the beginning of testing it looked like Ferrari were dominant, and now you’d have to say that the teams are all pretty close based on this test.”

Meanwhile, the sport’s two newest teams continued to trail at the bottom of the times. Heikki Kovalainen completed 65 laps on his way to 11th in the Lotus, with Luca di Grassi nearly 6 seconds off the top time in 12th.

Pos Driver         Team/Car            Time            Laps
1.  L. Hamilton    McLaren MP4-25      1:20.472        134
2.  M. Webber      Red Bull Racing RB6 1:20.496 +0.024 61
3.  F. Massa       Ferrari F10         1:20.539 +0.067 114
4.  A. Sutil       Force India VJM-03  1:20.611 +0.139 100
5.  S. Vettel      Red Bull Racing RB6 1:20.667 +0.195 76
6.  M. Schumacher  Mercedes GP W01     1:20.745 +0.273 123
7.  R. Barrichello Williams FW32       1:20.870 +0.398 84
8.  K. Kobayashi   Sauber C29          1:20.911 +0.439 67
9.  S. Buemi       Toro Rosso STR5     1:22.135 +1.663 88
10. R. Kubica      Renault R30         1:23.175 +2.703 107
11. H. Kovalainen  Lotus F1 T127       1:25.251 +4.779 65
12. L. Di Grassi   Virgin Racing VR-01 1:26.160 +5.688 49

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