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2013-03-01 08:34

RED BULL SETS THE PACE AT LAST: Mark Webber puts Red Bull on top for the time during testing ahead of the 2013 season-opener in Australia.

ALAN BALDWIN

BARCELONA, Spain - Red Bull's Mark Webber has become the ninth driver to top the time sheets in as many test days so far in 2013 during Formula 1 testing in Barcelona.

The opening day of the final test at the Spanish circuit before the season starts in Melbourne on March 17 started cold and wet but ended brightly with Red Bull setting the pace for the first time in 2013.

Webber's best time of 1min22.693 was set on the soft tyres, with 2008 World champion Lewis Hamilton second-quickest for Mercedes in 1min24.348, a gap of 1.655sec, on medium tyres.

'THROW ON SOME TYRES'

Webber said: "We got one hour at the end of the day at half-sensible conditions and we had a look at a few different compounds.  We opted to throw on some tyres and see how the car went, and that went OK."

That was after 90 laps of the Catalunya circuit

"We've still got work to do... wer'e seeing some very fast times from the other cars. There are some very strong teams out there. We're not on our own, that's for sure."

Jean-Eric Vergne was third-quickest, although really the times mean little given that teams are trying out different settings with various fuel loads, for Toro Rosso while Valtteri Bottas was fourth for Williams.

Bottas said: "It's a shame we were disrupted a bit by the wet weather, although this did allow us to run on the wet, intermediate and dry tyres."

Hamilton's 113 laps were the most achieved done by any driver. More rain was forecast for today (March 1 2013) before better, drier weather over the weekend.

The test session will end on March 3.

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