Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 22 News List

F1: Ferrari, McLaren favorites for 2008

AP , BARCELONA, SPAIN

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Formula One's final winter testing session wrapped up on Wednesday with one conclusion -- Ferrari and McLaren remain the favorites for the 2008 world championship.

Both teams stuck to individual programs on the final day of offseason practice, allowing Toyota driver Jarno Trulli to set the fastest time of 1 minute, 20.801 seconds at the 4.655km Circuit de Catalunya track.

Lewis Hamilton, who topped testing on Monday and Tuesday, finished 10th in 1:22.011, while teammate Heikki Kovalainen was fourth fastest in 1:21.309.

Defending champion Kimi Raikkonen focused on race simulation to finish ninth in a fastest time of 1:21.933, as teammate Felipe Massa clocked 1:22.286.

Massa knows which team will push Ferrari in its defense of the constructors' championship.

"If I have to point to the most dangerous team for us, I would say McLaren," the Brazilian said. "If you look not just at the final lap times, but if you look at their consistency, they are a little bit better than the other teams. I think we are pretty strong as well, but we'll have to wait and see."

Massa, who finished fourth in the drivers' standings last year, has been consistent through testing.

"I'm pretty satisfied. I finish my job for the winter test and now I'm 100 percent focused for the first race," Massa said of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 16.

Based on testing, Renault will need to lift to challenge for the championship.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso was seventh fastest on Wednesday after coming 13th on Tuesday. The Spaniard said his team is still adapting to Bridgestone tires after changing from Michelin last year.

"Generally, our times are not very good," said Alonso, who went around in 1:21.454.

Teammate Nelson Piquet Jr did slightly better, with a time of 1:21.433.

"Are we ready to win races? No, we're not ready to win races, we're ready for what we were expecting -- to fight with all of the teams after McLaren and Ferrari," Piquet Jr said. "We're never satisfied with where we are, we always want more time to prepare."

Williams continued to position itself as a realistic challenger to Ferrari and McLaren after driver Nico Rosberg registered another top-five finish in testing.

"We might not have the advantage performance-wise, for which we're in the middle of the pack, but drivability for us is very positive this season," said Rosberg, who finished third in a time of 1:21.293.

Williams finished fourth in the constructors' table last year, next after BMW Sauber and Renault.

Red Bull's David Coulthard, who was second quickest in 1:21.258, returned to testing after missing Tuesday's session with a slight neck injury.

Super Aguri's future remained uncertain after their team buses left Barcelona late on Tuesday because of financial problems.

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