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Felipe Massa leads way for Ferrari in Barcelona test

Felipe Massa
Massa finished sixth in the 2010 drivers' championship

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Barcelona

Felipe Massa took Ferrari back to the top of the timesheets with a late burst on the final day of the Barcelona test.

The Brazilian lapped in one minute, 22.625 - the fastest time of the test - to demote Red Bull's Mark Webber to second place by 0.817 secs.

Lewis Hamilton clocked more than 100 laps on a productive day for McLaren but was sixth; 1.378 secs off the pace.

The teams were due to travel to Bahrain for the final pre-season test but will now return to Barcelona on 8 March.

The organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was due to be held on 13 March, have announced they will not now stage the opening race of the 2011 season because of political unrest in the country.

That decision means the pre-season testing due to take place in Bahrain before the season-opening grand prix has been re-scheduled.

We had a very productive test, no question about it

Red Bull driver Mark Webber

Ferrari said they would modify their testing plans based on the decision not to travel to Bahrain.

As business continued as usual on track, Massa appeared to be attempting a late qualification simulation - the first seen by Ferrari at this test - when he unleashed his hot lap on his first run.

The Brazilian's progress was halted by Michael Schumacher's Mercedes stopped on track, causing the final red flag of the day.

The seven-time champion's best time of 1:27.079 was only enough for 10th place.

Webber had set the benchmark before the lunch break on the first run of a two-lap burst around the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Australian, who has yet to top the timings during testing, had clocked a time of 1:23.442 and it remained his best mark of the day.

After Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel successfully completed race simulations over the weekend, Red Bull decided to dismantle their pit wall and turned their attention to a series of medium and short runs.

"We had a very productive test, no question about it," said Webber, whose Red Bull team leave Barcelona as the pacesetters for the coming season in the eyes of many F1 insiders.

"We have a whole raft of data to go through, so we'll see where the next test is and get ready for that."

It was a more positive day for McLaren as Hamilton completed 107 laps, but the only other team to win races along with Red Bull and Ferrari in 2010 are widely believed to be struggling in comparison to their two main rivals.

I still think there are a great deal of positives to take from the test in terms of the pace of the car

Team Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne

Hamilton's final day of testing focused on tyre development over a series of long runs in order to try out the Pirelli tyres throughout a race stint.

Test team manager Indy Lall said: "We're still working through a very lengthy development programme - today wasn't about pure performance, it was about conducting a disciplined series of long-runs - but it's been a positive end to our test here."

Jenson Button, who drove the car for the first two days in Barcelona, commented on his Twitter page: "A tough two days of testing in terms of reliability but it seems like that has improved as Lewis [Hamilton] completed almost 100 laps.

"Good to see that we've made improvements and now we can hopefully see what this car can do."

Team Lotus had their programme cut short on the penultimate day in Barcelona after Jarno Trulli met the tyre wall when another radiator leak caused him to lose control.

"It was not his fault," explained technical director Mike Gascoyne. "We were missing a part we needed to put the car back together.

"Despite this I still think there are a great deal of positives to take from the test in terms of the pace of the car and the fact that we are on top of the reliability issues."

Virgin's Jerome D'Ambrosio caused the second red flag of the session when he came to a stop at the end of the pit lane and had to be wheeled back to his spot in the final garage.

Hispania chose not to run on the final day in Barcelona, packing up their trucks after three days' work.

Fastest times, day four, third pre-season test, Circuit de Catalunya:

1 Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:22.625
2 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:24.995
3 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.550
4 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 1:23.657
5 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.003
6 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Cosworth 1:24.057
7 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Mercedes 1:24.177
8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.515
9 Jerome D'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin-Cosworth 1:26.501
10 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes 1:27.079
11 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus-Renault 1:29.992

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see also
Bahrain GP off after civil unrest
21 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
F1 testing as it happened
21 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Barcelona F1 test photos
20 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Ferrari drivers unveil 2011 car
28 Jan 11 |  Formula 1

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