Rosberg Goes Fastest in Final F-1 Test; Red Bull in ‘Good Shape’

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg went quickest in the final Formula One preseason testing session before the 2013 world championship starts March 17.

Rosberg’s best time of 1 minute, 20.13 seconds over 131 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday was the fastest in this year’s tests at the track near Barcelona.

Rosberg, his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean of Lotus were the only drivers to have topped the timesheets more than once in the 12 days of preseason testing in Barcelona and Jerez, Spain. The cars are next due on the racetrack March 15 for two practice sessions ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

“I am pleased with the progress that the team has made over the last month and the steps forward that have been made with the car,” Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn said in a statement. “We’re realistic about our performance here and our position once we get to Melbourne.”

Mercedes, which finished fifth in the 2012 world championship, hired 2008 series winner Hamilton in September to replace record seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.

Red Bull, which is seeking its fourth straight constructors’ title, was fastest once in the 12 preseason testing sessions. The team’s lead driver Sebastian Vettel is the bookmakers’ favorite to win his fourth championship in a row.

“We’re in good enough shape,” Vettel said after posting the eighth-fastest time yesterday. “Over the past couple of days we maybe didn’t tick all the boxes that we wanted to, but we have a bit of time left to prepare before the season starts. The target is there to improve.”

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