2009 Winter Testing – Barcelona November test summary

2009 Style Formula 1 Front Wing - BMW Sauber

Only two weeks after the end of 2008 Formula One season all the F1 teams except Toyota returned to the track to begin preparations for 2009 season. Thanks to major rules and regulation changes this winter season promises to be exciting one. It will take a while before teams roll out anything that is close to the cars they will race next year. At the moment each team seems to be collecting different sorts of data and in different ways. This means that the times we see on the timesheets mean very much nothing. So let’s look at what the teams were up to in Barcelona this week:


McLaren worked with 2 cars. Both of them with simulated 2009 levels of downforce, one of them with KERS (the MP4-23K). Both cars also ran the slick tyres that will return to Formula 1 next year. Gary Paffet tested for all three days, Pedro de la Rosa on Monday only before moving to the Force India garage for the other 2 days of testing.


Ferrari also worked with 2 cars. One with same (or similar) set up as the car used in Brazil, the other car with 2009 downforce levels. The team worked with slick tyres but had to do without KERS. They used ballast only to simulate the extra weight that the Ferrari KERS is expected to add to the weight of the car. Ferrari test drivers Luca Badoer and Marc Gené were behind the wheel. Badoer was also testing the movable front wing that will be allowed next season. The other focus of the test for Ferrari was increasing the engine reliability to last 3 races (as required by rules for next year).

BMW Sauber

The biggest attention in Barcelona without any doubt attracted BMW Sauber with their 2009 look car. Massive front wing combined with narrow and high rear wing earned this car the title “the ugliest ever” :-) . BMW also fitted one of the cars with KERS (and some mechanics with rubber gloves). The fact that BMW Sauber used both their race drivers as well as test driver Christian Klien in Barcelona says something about BMW’s 2009 ambitions … The drivers reported more mechanical grip thanks to slick tyres but thanks to lower aero grip also lower speeds in fast corners (compared with what the 2008 car could do). No surprises …

KERS high voltage warning


Renault worked with two R28 cars with 2009 downforce level and focused on the slick tyres. The team gave Giedo van der Garde opportunity to test F1 car as a reward for his victory in Formula Renault 3.5 series. Nelson Piquet tested the other machine.

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso had dual agenda. Similar to Renault they focused on the slick tyres (on cars with simulated 2009 aero levels) but the main attention of F1 fans and media turned into the shootout for 2 available Toro Rosso seats between Bourdais, Buemi and Sato. It however emerged following the test that more important than on the track performances may be ability to bring some serious cash to the team. I smell advantage Sato here …

Red Bull Racing

Red Bull invited WRC champion Sebastien Loeb to test with them (see video here). And the Frenchman did not do too bad … Days 2 and 3 the belonged to Red Bull’s new race driver Sebastian Vettel. He experienced some problems with breaks on Tuesday but that did not stop him from being the fastest driver on the track on both his test days. The team worked on similar things as Toro Rosso – performance of the slick tyres combined with the 2009 aero.


Nico Hülkenberg and Nico Rosberg shared the Williams car featuring the narrow high rear wing. The combination of 2009 aero levels and slick tyres were the main focus of testing here as well.


Honda were the other team that used the test for drivers evaluation. Rubens Barrichello stayed home while Bruno Senna and Lucas de Grassi were trying to impress Ross Brawn. The Honda team boss was happy with both young Brazilians. He is not yet ready to tell whom they will pick but one thing can be said – it does not look too good for Rubens Barrichello. Besides di Grassi and Senna Honda worked also with Jenson Button and their regular test driver Alex Wurz.

Honda was also one of the 2 teams testing the new 2009 style front wing that Sergio M in his comment on this blog called a “lawnmover” :-) . Honda team seems to be encouraged by the resuls of their first winter test.

Honda, 2009 style front wing

Force India

Force India was another team with 4 drivers in action. Race drivers Adrian Sutil, Giancarlo Fisichella and the test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi were joined by McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa. This was the last time the Force India cars ran with Ferrari power. The team is not expected to test again till late February when the bew chassis built around Mercedes engine should be available. Who knows if the real purpose for de la Rosa’s drive was not to make use of the last chance to collect some info about the Ferrari engine for his McLaren bosses :-) . The real reason for de la Rosa’s test with Force India probably was to give Force India some extra feedback by an experienced F1 tester as a part of the official McLaren Force India cooperation. Of course it also called future of Fisichella and Sutil into question … Both Sutil and Fisichella however insist they do not feel threatened and their seats are safe.

The winter testing will continue in Jerez on December 8.

Visit also the F1Wolf Club to see collection of pictures and videos Kotenok took in Barcelona this week !

15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. kaushalNo Gravatar says:

    Force India F1 will return in feb,next year.will it effect its preparation for 2009 season?

    Also Pedro de la Rosa’s rumor to join force india is making a big news here in India newspapers.i was wondering if u can rovide stats and facts about him..

    kaushals last blog post..Fisichella Feels he is safe

  2. kaushalNo Gravatar says:

    provide not rovide..

    kaushals last blog post..Fisichella Feels he is safe

  3. StewNo Gravatar says:

    It is incredibly early, but despite the looks of the BMW, performance is very good. Only Robert is concerned about the bits and pieces on the track because of broken front wings, but other than that, they are impressed.

    Times are good, grip is good and turbulence when close to another car is greatly reduced. Next up for BMW is racing with passing at Jerez. Things look good so early in winter testing.

    Stews last blog post..New BMW Sauber Car on the Right Track

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      Yeah, about the problems of overtaking, I think they will be almost solved for the next season, now the skill of the drivers will be the only barrier to stop the massive overtaking during races.
      With 2009 spec car Robert Kubica and Christian Klien could easily win a 1-2 seconds gap per lap to other drivers during testing, it’s really impressive even while that was during TESTING, I was timing Klien and while following him I could notice that overtook 3 drivers in 2 laps – not bad, his rivals were Toro Rosso’s and one Force India.
      The speed gathered in the new prototype car was huge, slow corners won’t be the easiest spot to take good pictures. How to say??? Slicks give the traction and the cars pass through closed bends without any troubles. Despite, I didn’t visit the typical fast curve as Parabolica, in the Catalan track it’s well known there are a bunch of them and I didn’t want to walk 3 km to take a look to the Repsol curve :-P I can’t say nothing about the wings reduction in that aspect. But looking the final turn, New Holland, the car doesn’t lose much the line there and still it’s fast.

      I just saw the Honda’s mounting new wings at the end of the morning session, so, my opinion about them isn’t changed much, they seem turtle slow. Hopefully things change for these Japanese boys. I was surprised that names attached to Renault and Red Bull were testing for Honda, but they looked consistent.

      Ferrari or McLaren didn’t surprise me, the teams did km’s to test reliability of their motors and surely testing wings reduction, but nothing new that 1st day.

      Williams was curious, they were using 2009 spec front wing with 2008 rear wing, alternating that with 2009 rear wing and 2008 front wing, only they will know why…. But Nico Hulkenberg seems to be a good test driver, never mistakes and it’s gentleman, he allows to pass by easily other faster cars moving aside.

      I noticed that Loeb isn’t bad F1 tester, but looking his times shouldn’t be what matters, what matters to us should be if he follows the line, changes the gears well and do not block the brakes or have that usual over steer of novice drivers. Nothing of that, Sébastien did drive slower than others but very well.

      Toro Rosso, Renault and Force India were running reduced downforce as F1Wolf reports, low levels of wing and sometimes alternating the use of slicks with grooved tyres (as all the teams did that morning).

      Bad luck to me is that Jerez is really far away from here, so my next time will be sure when the F1 car’s are unlivered for 2009.

      Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

      • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

        how far is it from Barcelona to Jerez actually ?

        • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

          It is about 1000 km driving almost straight line, from here to Madrid it’s about 900 km. Yeah it isn’t really big distance compared with huge countries as China or USA :-P But you know Europe is really tinny. Anyway the trip from Barcelona to Jerez is about 10 hours. A long journey compared with a visit to the track of Barcelona, it takes me only 15min to arrive there.

          Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      well, that front wing extending way beyond the wheels begs for getting broken away in that race start chaos :-) one more reason to start the race from the pole …

  4. Jose ArellanoNo Gravatar says:

    i dont think the cars are thaaaat ugly,,, i actually like the big front wing… but i would look very good with a bigger rear one

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      I agree :-) it is that combination of huge wide front wing and narrow very high placed rear wing that makes the cars look weird :-)

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      They look diformed anyway…. I bet this architecture won’t hold too many years, teams will want to improve the aerodynamical performance anyway. And also bet that F1 won’t be open wheel too much time, but time will show us :-)

      Kotenoks last blog post..RubberGoat

  5. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    This post has given me concern over the safety of KERS. If mechanics are worried enough about shock, and they add the stickers to cars for warning, how safe are the drivers during the refueling?

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      I think this is just a precaution following the electric shock BMW mechanic received few months back during the first KERS test. But sight of those mechanics wearing rubber gloves can’t be too reassuring for the drivers in the cockpit …

  6. […] But the 2009 wings came out really are massive, especially on cars like BMW Sauber or the on Honda (tested in Barcelona in November). At least some teams, like McLaren and Ferrari, gave them some elgant […]


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