The new 2009 F1 cars took to test tracks last week. Ferrari tested at Mugello, BMW Sauber in Valencia, Toyota, McLaren, Renault, Williams and Renault at Portimao (Algarve). Toro Rosso and Red Bull (also at Portimao) are yet to reveal their new car and so Toro Rosso’s new driver Sebastien Buemi spent his track time in 2008 spec car.
Ferrari moved their test from Portimao to Mugello, expecting better weather in Italy than in Portugal. It got better eventually and after 3 days of rain Felipe Massa finally could run the car in dry conditions on the last day of Mugello test. Massa gave the new car 8 out 10, Raikkonen and his race engineer did not find anything to worry about. Raikkonen also while not sure about actual benefits of KERS was quite upbeat about progress Ferrari is making with the controversial device.
BMW Sauber had their private test in Valencia. They were the only team testing in dry conditions, their last two days however were affected by strong winds. The team, same as Ferrari, were happy with the test and encouraged by the high reliability of their new car.
All the others spent their week in rainy Algarve. The teams at least got some dry track time on the second day. Everybody seems to be reasonably happy with their first tests:
Williams car displayed impressive reliabilty during Nico Rosberg’s long run. Thanks to the weather owever Kazuki Nakajima did not get any chance to run the new FW-31.
In McLaren Lewis Hamilton expressed concern about lack of running caused by the wet conditions. It was even worse for Heikki Kovalainen, he did not get to test the McLaren at all … McLaren run sort of hybrid car (with the 2008 rear wing).
Jarno Trulli described the new car as impossible to drive in wet but overall Toyota seems to be reasobly happy with their first runs in TF-109. Timo Glock:
“The positive thing was that I could feel no major problems. The car wasn’t unstable under braking or not good enough in quick corners or whatever. It was in a good window and it was a good start point. It’s important that you don’t after 10 laps have a major problem with the car. That’s what we don’t have and that’s a good sign.”
Renault are another team unhappy about the weather but satisfied with what they could learn during the Algarve test. Christian Silk, chief test engineer:
“Although it has been a wet week, overall it has been an encouraging first test with the new car. At the moment the main things we are concentrating on are reliability and safety and in those respects the car has been excellent. It’s disappointing how the weather has worked out this week as we couldn’t look at the performance and could only really put mileage on the car. We’re now looking forward to the Jerez test next month where we can hopefully get down to some proper performance work.”
The quickest car in Algarve was Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso. He however run in 2008 spec car simulating 2009 downforce levels.
At the moment nobody is panicking and nobody is over excited. This may all change once the teams move beyond the initial shakedowns and data collection, more teams test on the same track and everybody will get opportunity to see where they stand relative to others …
Testing will resume on February 9 in Jerez.