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Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011

Thursday testing in Valencia as it happened


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By David Ornstein

1640: A super three days to get the 2011 season under way. Keep your eye on this very website for all the latest on McLaren's eagerly-anticipated 2011 car launch in Berlin tomorrow - it takes place at 1100 GMT. No live text commentary on that, I'm afraid, but we will be back to cover the Jerez test next week so see you then. And thanks again for all your comments. Adios!

Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "We will be giving out all times and info via twitter tomorrow to keep you informed."

1630: For everyone bar Team Lotus, it's time to bid Valencia farewell. As mentioned earlier, they missed Tuesday's test so plan to run again on Friday. The rest of the teams have a week to regroup before the second test, a four-day affair, in Jerez on 10-13 February. There's another four-dayer - in Barcelona - before the end end of the month and then one final test in Bahrain in March before the 2011 season begins for real on 13 March. How exciting is that?!

McLaren on Twitter: "Final lap of active service for our much-loved MP4-25 chassis. We'll miss her - but NEW CAR TOMORROW! :)"

Lotus Renault GP on Twitter: "Top of the timesheets for Robert after a productive day in Valencia covering 95 laps in all. Jerez here we come!"

1620: Important or not, let's take a look at the final standings for the three-day test in Valencia. From top to bottom: Kubica (one minute 13.144 seconds), Sutil (1:13.201), Alonso (1:13.307), Button (1:13.553), Vettel (1:13.614), Di Resta (1:13.844), Webber (1:13.936), Maldonado (1:14.299), Hamilton (1:14.353), Perez (1:14.458), Karthikeyan (1:14.472), Schumacher (1:14.537), Massa (1:14.541), Rosberg (1:14.645), Buemi (1:14.801), Glock (1:15.408), Barrichello (1:16.023), Alguersuari (1:16.474), Kovalainen (1:20.649), Trulli (no time).

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anon via text on 81111: "Astounded to see how many people seem to think that these times are representative of true pace. Ferrari blitzed the tests last year only to find that Red Bull had them easily outpaced at the vast majority of races. Additionally, this is only the third day of running - there are another 12 before the first race weekend!"

1610: And that, my friends, is the end of Valencia testing. There's no improvement from the men on the track, meaning RENAULT'S ROBERT KUBICA FINISHES THE SEASON'S FIRST TESTING EVENT TOP OF THE TIMESHEETS. The Pole does it with a lap of 1:13.144.

Chequered flag
1600: Out comes the chequered flag. Those currently on a lap are entitled to finish it but for everyone else, that's your lot.

1559: Sutil, Webber, Massa and Maldonado set for one last push... and here's Glock too. It's make-yourself-a-hero time. Well, not quite, but this is still ruddy interesting.

1558: Quite some day this has been and let me thank you in advance for each and every one of your comments. Apologies to those who didn't make it into the live text, your time will come. Really appreciate it folks. Now back to the action...

1555: Five minutes to go, people, who's going to make a late charge or will Kubica steal the show with his 1:13.144? Exciting stuff.

McLaren on Twitter: "Don't forget, tomorrow's event in Berlin will be live-streamed at People are asking for timings: 11am if you're in the UK. 12pm if you're in Europe. And 5am EST."

1550: The teams definitely seem to be focusing on longer runs as the day draws to a close. Button finishes his 11-lap stint with an average time of 1:17.901. Meanwhile, Massa fans finally have something to cheers about as their man goes fifth fastest with a 1:14.017. Loads of you asking what time McLaren are launching their new car tomorrow and at last I have some news for you...

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Sean, London, via text on 81111: "Will be good to see the McLaren tomorrow. I think it could be black rather than silver. The last few seasons McLaren have had silver cars and silver team clothing. But, this year the McLaren website is showing them to have black team clothing..."
Sorry to dash your dreams, Shaun, but McLaren have already confirmed their 2011 challenger will silver

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Robert, Leeds, via text on 81111: "Renault have got best looking and fastest car, and moreover the best driver in Kubica. The season is over: Kubica will be the champion."
Now that is brave prediction. Anyone know the odds?

Robert Kubica
Kubica in the all-new R31
1535: Into the last half-hour we go and Mr Kubica looks set to grab the headlines. Not sure what Renault were up to early doors - their Polish driver was about 14 seconds off the pace for most of the morning. However, since lunch he's been haring around Circuit Ricardo Tormo in the R31 his fans will be chuffed to bits. Renault, of course, are now backed by Group Lotus and have adopted a black and gold livery that pays homage to the famous Lotus F1 cars of the 1970s and '80s. Just to confuse things, we've also got two Team Lotus vehicles on the grid. Have a read of Andrew Benson's blog to understand the full complexities of this situation.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Phil, Belfast, via text on 81111: "Kubica fastest, looks like the Renault doesn't just look nice!! Now to try and re-route the exhaust on my Ford Fiesta!!"
Excellent idea, was thinking of doing the same to my Punto after writing the Fiesta off...

1520: Mark Webber, welcome to the 1:13 party. The Aussie flyer registers a 1:13.936 to go fourth on today's timesheet.

Get involved on 606
Paul C on 606: "Cant wait to see the McLaren unveiled tomorrow. Just hope they have some super innovative upgrades which enable Lewis and Jenson to finish every race with a podium!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anon via text on 81111: "I think Ferrari have made a mistake retaining Massa when they could have signed Kubica to strengthen their team. Kubica is already the fastest in a 2011 car, and Massa is handy with an extinguisher, plus Alonso and Kubia are best friends."

Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Jarno finished for the day, 38 laps without power steering is tough so well done to him, great effort. He had a tough day but the engineers loved it, got all our background tests done."

1505: Seems like seven of the cars testing today are out on the Ricardo Tormo circuit at present. Kubica leads from Stuil by 0.057secs with Button third (1:13.553), Maldonado fourth (1:14.299) and Webber (1:14.382) completing the top five. Schumacher almost 1.4secs off the pace in seventh and Massa a place further back, making little headway in his patched up Ferrari F150.

1500: An hour to go and Kubica remains the man to beat with that 1:13.144. Andrew Benson's already mooting headlines for his day three report, which almost certainly means the Pole will be trumped before the session ends at 1600.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "It's me again. This time I have word from Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa. Fernando Alonso topped Wednesday's timesheets in Valencia for Ferrari and Costa reckons it's a case of so far so good for the Italian team. He says: 'Looking only at our car, yes we are happy. From a mechanical point of view the car from here and Jerez will be almost complete but from the aerodynamic point of view there will be further evolutions. It needs to be a very balanced approach to be a fast and winning car. We know what we have developed from a performance view in the week, we know what we have got from our end to continue the development so we think that we are pushing as much as we can.' By the way, how cool is Costa? The answer is very cool. He took delivery of an espresso during his media conference and glugged it down in one go.'"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "In other news, a man at media HQ is wearing a pair of 3D glasses to look at photos of cars. Shall I tell him to just look out the window?"

1445: The estimable Sarah Holt has been out and about talking to Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. This time last year, Brawn admitted the team were struggling for pace. Move forward a year and, while he admits they are not quite at the sharp end, he's a lot more optimistic. You can read his thoughts here .

1440: Kubica jumps to the top of the times - on Thursday and overall for the three days - with a one minute 13.144 seconds lap, just 0.1secs quicker than Fernando Alonso's best lap in the Ferrari from Wednesday.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "I have more for Anon to add to Andrew's earlier comments on the debate over the Pirelli tyres. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says the Valencia test has been a good starting point. But if the teams aren't happy with the Italian company's tyres then they might have to lump it. The four tyre compounds will only have minor modifications before the final versions are delivered at the third pre-season test in Barcelona. Hembery added that in reality the four compounds - super-soft, soft, medium and hard - are locked in for the season. So the bottom line is that it is up to the teams to learn how to use the tyres because Pirelli aren't going back to the drawing board."

1430: Appropriately, after that last report, Michael Schumacher is currently the only man out on the track - but he is still more than 1.3secs off the ultimate pace, and a second behind the fastest 2011 car, which on Thursday is Kubica's Renault. Although it has to be said that Webber's long run in the Red Bull around the middle of the day was pretty impressive on the face of it.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "I've just had a nice chat with Mercedes head honcho Ross Brawn. The team's testing so far has been disrupted by reliability problems. Brawn says: 'It has been a fragmented start but my gut feeling is pretty good. We're not right at the sharp end but we are reasonably encouraged.' I asked him whether he thought Michael Schumacher was under pressure to improve after a difficult 2010 season when the seven-time champion was out-performed by his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Brawn said: 'It depends how you define pressure. He's under a huge amount of pressure from his own pride.' And in answering rumours that he will sell his remaining shares in Mercedes, Brawn said he could not comment on speculation but added that as long as he was in F1, he would be at Mercedes. And that he intended to stay around a long time. It's always good to talk to Ross Brawn."

Mercedes GP on Twitter: "Less than 2 hours of track time remaining. The plan is for some long runs now to end the day."

1428: Sutil into the pits after a 19-lap run which takes him to 98 overall. Meanwhile, Maldonado reels off two flying laps in his Williams FW33 to position himself as the second fastest of the 2011 cars with a lap of 1:14.299. The Venezuelan's up to fourth on today's timesheets. Now, if you'd be so kind as to excuse me I could murder a cheese and pickle sarnie. Back in a bit.

1420: Kubica maintaining the pressure on Sutil by leapfrogging Button into second place with a 1:13.508, just 0.307secs off the pace. Button's run lasted 14 laps and he registered an average lap time of 1:16.838. Perez fourth, Schumacher fifth and Webber sixth. Massa on the move with a 1:15.106, the Brazilian up to ninth.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Martin, Durham, via text on 81111: "Just before 10 this morning, McLaren asked about favourite memories of the MP4-25. For me it's our trip to Canada to see Lewis and Jenson in a one/two finish. Lewis overtook Alonso for the lead right in front of us at the end of the start/finish straight. Fantastic..."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Ian, Edinburgh, via text on 81111: "Actually, I believe Jody Scheckter used zero in about 1974."
Good shout. Am I allowed to blame Andrew Benson for false information?!

1413: Quite a few of you asking how the "new" teams are stacking up on the timesheets. I'm afraid it really is too early to say. Hispania and Virgin are running last year's cars while the new Lotus is running at half-speed because of power steering problems. After missing testing on Tuesday, Lotus plan to get some more laps under their belt tomorrow, but this is the final day for everyone else.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Goz, Barnsley, via text on 81111: "With regards to Rach's text, we haven't seen '0' as a number since Damon Hill had it in 1994 when Prost retired as champion."
Correct. Hill also had it in 1993 after Mansell retired and I believe those are the only occasions we've seen the zero.

1400: Must admit we've been pretty stunned by the number of comments submitted over the past three days. Still a couple of hours left, though, so keep 'em coming. We're using the Twitter hashtag #BBCF1 and you can also contact me direct @bbcsport_david. The 606 message boards are of course open and your texts are more than welcome on 81111 (UK).

1354: Time for Mexican rookie Sergio Perez to make an impact. Perez, the first man from his country to compete in F1 since Hector Alonso Rebaque (1977-1981), has shot up to fourth on today's timesheets with a lap of 1:14.469. Solid stuff from the Sauber.

1348: Just received a text from Rachel on 81111 (UK) pointing me towards a vey funny article on F1 drivers waxing their legs. "In order to assist teams with reduced budgets, half-leg waxes will be allowed. Which half is entirely at the discretion of the driver. Drivers must declare whether shaving is to be done using cream or wax: in racing parlance, 'wet' or 'dry'." Meade me chuckle, anyway. Have a read.

1340: I can confirm Felipe Massa is back on the track. Fire extinguished, car repaired, lunch taken. Now to get some laps under his belt after completing just 12 before his spin this morning.

1338: We mustn't, of course, read too much into these times. It's only the third of 15 days' official testing before the season-opener in Bahrain, fuel loads are unknown, most teams are still getting to grips with and developing their new cars while other are still using their 2010 models. Valencia is also about experimentation, be it with various systems, controls, the new Pirelli tyres and much, much more.

1335: How we looking then? Well, Adrian Sutil of Force India - in a 2010 car - still tops the Valencia timesheets with that lap of 1:13.201. McLaren's Jenson Button is 0.352secs adrift, with Renault's Robert Kubica third after he went round in 1:13.893. Michael Schumacher of Mercedes is 1.336secs off the pace in fourth and Red Bull's Mark Webber just under five hundredths further back in fifth.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Rach via text on 81111: "Why is Lewis's car no3? Is it not driver related? Jenson took his 1 with him last year. How does it work?"
Rach, the numbers are primarily based on the constructors' championship. Red Bull took the spoils last year so Vettel (winning driver in 2010) is number one and Webber number two. As McLaren finished second, Hamilton takes number three and Button number four. The only complication comes if the winning driver does not represent the winning constructor the following season. In such a case, as we saw last year with Button, the winning driver takes the number one with him and the rest of the numbers are based on the previous season's constructors' tables. Does that make sense?

Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Jarno just out for another run, 23 laps this morning. Performed engine mapping, starts, fuel system test and rear wing actuation."

1310: A 20-lap stint in the bag, Webber heads into the pits. The Australian's average time for that run is 1:15.971 and he remains fifth fastest today with a lap of 1:14.584. Encouraging signs on an important day for Webber and Red Bull.

1307: Hamilton also confirmed that he hopes to appoint a new manager within the next two weeks.

1305: Since the professional split with his son, Anthony Hamilton has helped fellow-Briton Paul Di Resta secure a full-time race seat with Force India. "He's done a fantastic job to get Paul in," adds Lewis. "Clearly he is very gifted at getting drivers into Formula 1, which is fantastic. It means he is obviously going to be coming to work and support Paul, but he is my dad so he will naturally be up and down (the paddock), but things are going really well with him."

Lewis Hamilton
Hamitlon finished fourth last season
1300: Some nice quotes have just come into us from Lewis Hamilton. Well, he didn't send them personally but you know what I mean. The 2008 champion has revealed that his relationship with dad Anthony is now far healthier than it was last year. Just two weeks prior to the 2010 season, Lewis axed Anthony as his manager, which resulted in a sad period of silence between the two. But the 26-year-old McLaren driver said: "I just feel things in my life are much better now, and I feel in a much better place, that I'm able to focus even more energy on to winning than I've done in the past. But every year I've always approached it the same. Sometimes your training doesn't go as well, sometimes you're more drained by appearances or certain things you do. Whereas this year things have been a lot clearer and the training has been a lot more productive, and I'm feeling a lot better about the car. Of course, I always want it more. I can never want it enough."

1253: And Kubica goes quicker still with a 1:14.168 to snatch third place from Schumacher.

1250: Kubica makes his move, leaping from the bottom of today's timesheets up to third with a lap of 1:14.250. Problems with the Renault? Pah! The Pole dives into the pits and Toro Rosso's Buemi comes out to join Webber on the track. The Red Bull, who finished third in last year's championship, looks in the midst of a lengthy run and his times are dropping with every lap. He currently sits fifth with a best effort of 1:14.584. Interested to hear your thoughts on the 34-year-old's chances this term - many feel his best shot at the title came last year. Who are you tipping for the title?

1238: That's certainly tickled the tastebuds but I can't give in just yet - plenty more to update you on before I pop off for some almuerzo. Talking of which, you lovely people up to anything interesting this lunchtime? Apart from keeping your eyes trained to this wonderful page obviously.

Jenson Button's physio Mike Collier on Twitter: "The testing banter is in full flow. I think it was Strawberry flavor :)"
For those of you who can't see it, Mike has posted a photo of one of the McLaren engineers working on Button's car with a yogurt pot balancing on his head. As you do...

Jenson Button's girlfriend Jessica Michibata on Twitter: "Just finished 1.8K swim, wow I didn't think I'll be able to swim this far alone! cowabunga!"

1218: Doesn't feel like we've already been going for four hours but we have indeed and the drivers have been clocking up some serious mileage. Glock sits top of the pops with 68 laps in the bag, with Maldonado racking up 52, Sutil 49, Webber 48, Karthikeyan 40, Buemi 39 and Button 38 and Perez 38. Five-time champion Schumacher - as Mercedes told us below - has done 35, with Trulli (23) and Kubica (15) taking it easy. Kubica's time of 1:27.813 is more than 14 seconds off the pace, suggesting Renault are performing systems checks or may possibly have some sort of problem they're attempting to rectify. He's just left the pits so we should know more soon.

Mercedes GP on Twitter: "Lunchtime at MGP :) Michael back out this afternoon."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson: "In answer to 'anon' below, it's fair to say the Pirellis have proved in Valencia to go off very quickly - particularly the rears. But the company has been asked to provide less durable tyres than Bridgestone tended to make, because there's a belief that tyres that go off quickly make better racing - just look at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2010. The tyres have been developed since the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, and there is a media briefing on Thursday at which more will become clear about Pirelli's plans."

1200: Button goes round in 1:13.553 to move up to second on the timesheets with McLaren's fastest lap of the test far. They'll be happy with that, the Woking-based team. The wraps come off their 2011 challenger in Berlin tomorrow and judging by the amount of chat about it on Twitter, 606 and text via 81111 (UK), most of you seem rather excited.

Get involved on 606
Espelho on 606: "How many test days are there leading to Bahrain? Also are the teams expected to move to any of the other tracks to do testing?"
Good question. After Valencia, the teams get fours day' testing in Jerez (10-13 Feb), another four in Barcelona (17-20 Feb) and then four more in Bahrain (3-6 Mar) ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday 13 March.

1148: With uncanny timing (given Anon's question below), Pirelli announce a press conference for 1500 local time (1400 GMT). BBC Sports's Sarah Holt will be there, so we'll keep you posted on any news as and when it emerges.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anon via text on 81111: "Cant help but get the feeling drivers aren't to impressed with the Pirelli rubber. Is this as much a test period for Pirelli as much as the teams? How much will the tyres change before the first race? I know it was for cost cutting but I'd love F1 to go back to multiple tyre manufacturers!"
Our F1 expert Andrew Benson will be back with some answers for you shortly

The sun is out
Guardian chief sports writer Richard Williams on Twitter: "It's another sunny day in Valencia, with another good turnout of spectators at the autodrome."

Mercedes GP on Twitter: "Coming up to the halfway point in the day and Michael has completed 35 laps and is in P2 on the times 1:14.537."

1130: Back to the track and Webber ups the ante with a lap of 1:14.537. He's still third-fastest today, though, with Sutil and Schumacher holding on to the top two places. Sutil's time of 1:13.201 is the quickest of the three-day test so far, 0.106secs up on that set by Fernando Alonso on Wednesday. Nice work from the Force India but don't forget they are still using last year's car - the new version will be on show at the next test in Jerez from 10-13 Feb.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Stew, York, via text on 81111: "What is the very tall black fin on top of Massa's camera, above the air intake?"
It's an 'anemometer', used to measure wind speed. All part of the aerodynamic set-up analysis.

1115: Massa and his machine are not expected to be back on the track before 1500 local time (1400 GMT). Plenty of time for a long lunch then, Ferrari fans.

Felipe Massa
1113: Ferrari have confirmed an oil leak was to blame for Massa's spin. It was caused by a broken clamp and the lubricant ended up on the exhausts, which in turn led to a fire breaking out and damaging the F150.

1059: Our rolling photo gallery has been updated with a couple of corking shots of Massa's car catching fire. Take a look.

1056: And here come Webber, Sutil and Karthikeyan.

1055: It's all gone a bit quiet out there on the track, Glock lapping on his lonesome. Sutil still tops the timesheets for today (1:13.201) with Schumacher (1:14.537), Webber (1:14.701), Button (1:14.710) and Maldonado (1:15.136) completing the top five. Massa, Glock himself, Perez, Buemi, Karthikeyan and Kubica currently occupy places 6-11, although Kubica's yet to crank it up - as a time of 1:27.813 would suggest!

1045: Just to remind you, we had an red flag earlier on (see 0842) after Felipe Massa took a spin in the F150. Smoke was billowing out of his car and BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia has some more info... "I've just seen the TV footage - caught by our man Martin - of Felipe Massa's earlier incident. Massa lost control of the car in a figure-of-eight spin. He managed to collect the car and then carry on with smoke streaming from the rear of the Ferrari. That smoke then turned into fire, Massa spun again and came to a stop. There's some brilliant footage of Massa out of the car and furiously signalling to the fire marshals to put out the flames, waving his arms up and down in frustration. Ferrari later diagnosed the cause of Massa's woes as an oil leak and there was plenty of clearing up to be done on the track after the incident."

jbilliotte on Twitter: "I was wondering if Force India was running its 2011 F1 car in Valencia?"
Afraid not. The VJM04 will come out to play in time for Jerez (10-13 Feb). In fact, every new car is due on the track there apart from Hispania's.

1030: And here's a bit more from Holty... "Renault have caused a stir in Valencia with an eye-catching design concept for their 2011 car. Their new exhaust exits at the front of the sidepods either side of the driver with the idea that this will increase downforce from the floor by speeding up airflow around the sidepods and under the floor. But was Renault driver Robert Kubica impressed by the bold design? 'I see the difference that the exhaust is longer and it's blowing gas in different places but to compare it is impossible. It's nice to see something new which came from our designers and our factory and we hope it will work and we'll have some more clever ideas.' Well, if I were Renault I'd take that as a compliment."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "All quiet in Valencia. No cars on the track. Perfect time for the first cup of tea of the morning, courtesy of @OfficialMGP..."

1020: Sticking with the Silver Arrows and Michael Schumacher climbs to second on today's timesheets with a lap of 1:14.537. I'm hearing the seven-time world champion set the time on the first of a five-lap run. Apparently his time dropped by only seven tenths between laps one and three. After a damp squib of a comeback season in 2010, is this year going to be the real second coming of Michael Schumacher? You tell me...

1015: Mercedes haven't enjoyed the smoothest of starts to a season but they will hope to have seen the back of Tuesday's hydraulics problems. "We had a few issues which is normal with a new car but fixed them quickly," said Nico Rosberg after testing on Wednesday. Team principal Ross Brawn added: "Today [Wednesday] was important for us to get some good mileage on the car and I'm pleased with what we have been able to achieve. It has been a learning experience for us all to use Kers for the first time and inevitably we faced some teething problems with the system which should be ironed out quickly enough with further testing. A more positive day in terms of reliability and we completed a number of the key system checks with the new car."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "I have an answer for the curious RoyDavies on what McLaren are up to in this three-day test where they are running the 2010 car. Team spokesman Steve was on hand to ask what new parts McLaren are running and he cheekily answered: 'They are round and on each corner of the car.' But McLaren really are focused in Valencia on understanding the new tyres supplied by Pirelli, the Italian company which replaces Bridgestone as F1's supplier in 2011. The team say using last season's McLaren as a stable platform means they can easily analyse how the tyre is working and its degradation patterns. There's still plenty of data that McLaren can feed back to 'steer the simulator' at the factory. What McLaren are NOT using here is the Kers energy boost system, the moveable rear wing and other 2011-spec features. That is all to come at next week's Jerez test once the new car is unveiled in Berlin on Friday."

1010: Out goes Glock and he's up into seventh with a 1:15.753. He's another driving a 2010 vehicle this week but will have his newbie in time for Jerez, with Virgin launching their MVR-02 at BBC Television Centre on Monday.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Martin, UK, via text on 81111: "Its amazing - loads of new cars to analyse in Valencia and everyone is more interested in the one that isn't here! Very clever marketing by McLaren. Think every F1 fan will be tuned in for the launch tomorrow…"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Adam, Midhurst, via text on 81111: "I think McLaren have played a clever move. Start off with a known good baseline, the 2010 car. Change the Tyres over to the new Pirelli's and understand what the differences are. This gives them more time at the factory to work on the 2011 car and also keep any new design innovations secret."

McLaren on Twitter: "So, last time using MP4-25 today! Let's hear your favourite memories of our five-race-winning, F-ducted, silver beauty! Over to you..."

0950: Ooooh make that "Button third", the 2009 champion producing a 1:14.710 on one of his first timed laps. Good work from Frome's finest. He's straight back into the pits, though, leaving Webber with the track to himself.

0945: Force India bring Sutil in after a four-lap run, meaning Teeeemo Glock and Seba Buemi are the only drivers on the Ricardo Tormo circuit right now. Talking of Sutil, he still tops today's timesheets (1:14.258) and is fourth fastest overall. In last year's car, lest we forget. Webber is second (1:14.701), Massa third (1:15.650), Schumacher fourth (1:16.019) and Pastor Maldonado fifth (1:16.222). This, of course, is Maldonado's debut season in F1 after he replaced Nico Hulkenberg at Williams. He is only the second Venezuelan to drive in the sport.

Get involved on 606
fernandoalonsoatemyhamster on 606: "Does the McLaren strategy actually suggest they were worried of turning up and being blown away by the opposition? At least they are in a position now of knowing what direction everyone else has gone in and can adjust the new car in secret."

Renault on Twitter: "Robert's programme for the day is as follows: tyre evaluation of most compounds, set-up work and then long runs in the afternoon."

Ferrari on Twitter: "It was an hot start for Felipe... His car had a small fire due to an oil leak so it will be necessary to work at length to repair it."

0928: So we're back under way and Webber fans will be pleased to hear the Australian has jumped up to second on today's timesheets - and ninth overall - with a lap of 1:14.701. Sebastian Vettel had the new Red Bull all to himself on Tuesday and was back in the seat on Wednesday morning. Webber took over for the afternoon session but had less than an hour to impose himself and was hampered by a red flag late on, finishing 14th fastest, four seconds behind Alonso. "I didn't get so long in the car today, so we will start the real work tomorrow," said the 34-year-old. "There was a bit of a problem with the installation, something with the pedals, so it took a bit longer than we expected. It wasn't the smoothest day, but we're back tomorrow [Thursday] - it's great that the guys have got the car here for the first test and I'm looking forward to driving it more."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Sam Jarvis, Kent, via text on 81111: "Morning everyone, just wondering what the opinion is on McLaren's late launch? As Red Bull have missed the first test in the two previous seasons but feel it necessary to get the car ready so they can understand how the Pirelli tyres work on the new car, have McLaren done a wise thing by getting a baseline from the old car? What is the consensus?"

Felipe Massa's car is lifted away after a spin
Felipe... you under there?
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Felipe Massa's Ferrari has been unceremoniously delivered back to the pits by a truck. A large red cover is flapping in the light breeze threatening to unveil the technical secrets of the F150. Our eyes trackside report that Massa looked annoyed, to say the least, especially when the fire marshals took their times to arrive with their extinguishers. I expect Massa will be more than a bit cross after his team-mate Alonso set the fastest time seen at this test so far on Wednesday."

0914: Is that a Green flag? Oh yes it it. Here we go...

RoyDavies on Twitter: "How much data will McLaren be getting from last year's car? How many new parts are actually fitted to the car?"
Good question, I'll get our intrepid reporter Sarah Holt on the case. In the meantime, have a read of the Hamilton news piece she wrote on Wednesday.

0905: Still awaiting the green flag as Massa's F150 is lifted off the track, draped in a red cloth and whizzed back to Ferrari's garage on the back of a truck. Reminds me of the day I wrote off my Fiesta.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Jon, Princes Risborough, via text on 81111: "Really can't wait for the new season, I think that some of the established midfield teams are going to give the boys at the front a very big shock!"

0855: Phew, finally an opportunity to catch our breath. We've a long day ahead of us so I'm hoping for lots of excellent chat from your good selves. You probably know the drill by now but, if not, here we go. The Twitter hashtag #BBCF1 is proving a remarkably popular way of getting in touch so do keep at it! You can also contact me direct @bbcsport_david, join the debate on 606 or drop a good old-fashioned text message to 81111 (UK).

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Hello again. It's been a busy start to the final day of testing in Valencia with all cars out on track. There has been some early drama for Felipe Massa, who has just spun off and sent plumes of smoke from his Ferrari. Our cameraman trackside Martin reports that Massa stopped the Ferrari on track and then spun twice on oil. The session is red-flagged. Jenson Button was also happily getting back in the swing of things in last year's McLaren. Mark Webber was straight down to it for Red Bull after losing time when he took over from Sebastian Vettel on Wednesday afternoon. Webber explains: 'There was a bit of a problem with the installation, something with the pedals. It wasn't the smoothest day but it's great the guys got the car here for the first test.' Adrian Sutil is also back at work after being re-signed by Force India and he is top of the timesheets with 1:14.288."

0847: Sounds as though Massa has taken a spin at the Turn 3 exit. Reports of smoke and even a few flames. The Brazilian jumps out of his F150 and hopefully we'll be back up and running in not too long at all. Sutil (1:14.288) currently tops today's timesheets with Massa 1.362secs back and Webber third with a 1:16.273. Very early days.

0842: Not only does my computer crash three times in a minute but to compound our woes we now have a RED FLAG as well.

0840: Seven-time world champion Schumacher is first on to today's timesheet with a leisurely one minutes 23.996 seconds. The fastest lap of the three-day test to date came on Wednesday when Fernando Alonso went round in 1:13.307, 0.307secs quicker than the time set by world champion Sebastian Vettel on Tuesday.

Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Getting ready for the days running, more systems checks and aero runs today with first runs of adjustable rear wing. New parts for power steering not available until tomorrow so don't expect any laptimes from us today, but plenty of work to do."

Get involved on 606
the insider on 606: "I keep hearing testing tells us nothing. Well in the Valencia Testing 2007-2010 the fastest time each year was between 1:11:000 and 1:11:470. Amazing I know, over those 4 years just half a second difference. This year day one's fastest time was 1:13:769 by Vettel. Alonso improved this on day 2 by 0.462 to 1:13:307. This is still 1.8 seconds slower than last years final best time in Valencia testing. The improvement from day one in 2010 to the final time on day 3 was 1.1 seconds. Testing is telling us the 2011 cars are definitely slower due to the regulation changes than those from 2010. Probably ending up by over 1 second a lap slower in Valencia and more at other circuits."

McLaren test driver Gary Paffett on Twitter: "Morning tweeps. Up early this morning heading into MTC for some simulator work. Looking forward to seeing the new car being built."

0825: Force India's Adrian Sutil was the first man to sample the tarmac this morning. FI still using their 2010 car before unveiling the new VJM04 at the Jerez test on 10-13 February. Jarno Trulli then exits the pits to take the Lotus T128 for a spin before Red Bull's Mark Webber and a few others head out to complete installation laps.

The sun is out
0820: And there I was wishing you a "warm" welcome. It's actually just three degrees Celsius in Spain's third largest city, but temperatures are expected to rise to a pleasant 14 by mid-afternoon. Sunny skies all day, too.

Mercedes GP on Twitter: "Morning from a very chilly Valencia... Michael's back in the car today for the final day of the test. Michael's new engineer is Mark Slade, assisted by Peter Bonnington. Andrew Shovlin is now our Chief Race Engineer overseeing both cars."

0818: Wherever you are in the world, a very warm welcome to our coverage of the third and final day of festivities at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit.

0815: In 38 days, four hours and 45 minutes, the fastest drivers in the world will screech out of their starting boxes in Bahrain to get the 2011 Formula 1 season under way. Not long now folks, not long now. And how better to get you in the mood for that mouth-watering day than by checking out exactly how the protagonists are faring in their preparations? It's time to go testing...

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see also
Kubica sets test pace for Renault
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
F1 testing photos
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Brawn encouraged by Mercedes pace
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Hamilton eager for 2011 McLaren
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Alonso responds to Red Bull pace
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel quickest in Valencia test
01 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel predicts tough title fight
01 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Teams launch cars ahead of test
31 Jan 11 |  Formula 1
Ferrari drivers unveil 2011 car
28 Jan 11 |  Formula 1

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