Raikkonen ends F1 testing on a high

London: Kimi Raikkonen wrapped up his Formula One comeback preparations with a flourish on Sunday while Red Bull`s double world champion Sebastian Vettel endured a frustrating end to pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Vettel, who will next be in the car in Melbourne when he begins his campaign for a third successive title in practice for the March 18 season-opener, was the last name on the timesheets with just 23 laps to his credit while Raikkonen was top.

The 24-year-old German went off track and broke his front wing before suffering gearbox problems.

"With testing you always have something you`d run differently but you have to accept what you get," said Vettel, winner of 11 out of 19 races last year, in a team review.

"There aren`t many years you can give yourself a 10 out of 10 because it`s likely that things break or you stop for precautionary reasons. Overall though, I think we can be quite happy with how we`ve done this time."

Former McLaren and Ferrari race winner Raikkonen completed a whopping 121 laps, including a full race simulation, in his black and gold Lotus at the Circuit de Catalunya on a day that started bright but then clouded over before rain in the late afternoon.

The Finn, who won his title with Ferrari, has not started a grand prix since 2009 after spending the last two years in rallying. His best time of one minute 22.030 seconds was set in the morning.

Raikkonen and his French team mate Romain Grosjean are the only drivers to have each gone fastest on two of the 12 test days.

Ferrari`s double world champion Fernando Alonso was second fastest on Sunday but the Italian team have not been happy with the performance of one of the ugliest cars they have ever made.

Technical director Pat Fry said the team, the most successful and glamorous in Formula One who won just once last year, still had a lot of work to do and he was disappointed with where they were at the moment.

Brazilian Bruno Senna was third on the timesheets with Williams, ahead of Germany`s Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India and Sauber`s Japanese Kamui Kobayashi. McLaren`s Lewis Hamilton was sixth fastest.

Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher was eighth quickest in the Mercedes, completing 100 laps and 466km.

"I think we can say that we are very well prepared," commented Schumacher. "We all know that testing does not show everything. What we can say though is that the field is tighter than it has been so we are looking forward to an exciting season."

Sunday was the last of three pre-season tests, with testing now banned until the three days scheduled for Italy`s Mugello circuit during the August break.

Spain`s HRT team, who failed to finish their new car in time for the final Barcelona test, will carry out a filming day at the circuit on Monday which will allow them to complete 100km. The team said in a statement that Indian Narain Karthikeyan will be at the wheel.

Bureau Report