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Formula 1’s first test of the winter got underway in Spain with Sebastien Loeb at the wheel of the Red Bull machine, as part of a "thank you" from Red Bull for winning the World Rally Championship yet again.  

Having had a shakedown at Silverstone last week, the Frenchman had a better idea of what to expect and produced an excellent performance throughout the day.

After spending most of the morning settling in and finding a good balance on the car, Loeb was actually put to more "serious" use in the afternoon, evaluating the Bridgestone slick tyres which will be used in 2009 and providing the team with valuable data.  

"I don't think I'd like to take this much horsepower into the forests!" quipped the Frenchman. "It was a great experience and I had fun, although I have to say that driving one of these cars is tougher physically than driving my rally car.

“Towards the end of the day, I began to get a good feel for the car and enjoyed the sensation of it moving around on the track. I have to say that the level of grip in the high-speed corners is very impressive."  

Loeb was an impressive eighth quickest in the test, less than two seconds behind pace setter Takuma Sato in a Toro Rosso.

Unofficial times from Barcelona
1. Takuma Sato, Toro Rosso, 1:20.763
2. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:21.071
3. Alexander Wurz, Honda, 1:21.198
4. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:21.417
5. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:21.956
6. Luca Badoer, Ferrari, 1:23.264
7. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:22.341
8. Sebastien Loeb, Red Bull, 1:22.503
9. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:22.560
10. Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 1:22.883
11. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:23.467
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:23.794
13. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:23.832
14. Marc Gene, Ferrari, 1:24.177
15. Bruno Senna, Honda, 1:24.343
16. Giedo van der Garde, Renault, 1:24.908
17. Lucas di Grassi, Honda, 1:25.512

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