Interesting day in Barcelona yesterday. Toro Rosso introduced their new car, STR4, a car made in Faenza that “is not a rebadged RB5″. Jenson Button and Brawn GP raised some eyebrows by spending most of the day at the top of the time sheets. At the end the honour of being the fastest driver of the day went to Nick Heidfeld for his 1:20.338 lap. Raikkonen’s Ferrarri and Trulli’s Toyota were about 6 tenths behind. This may suggest that Heidfeld (same as Vettel last week in Jerez) did a low fuel qualifying run. Only 2 tenths further back was Jenson Button.
There has already been talk about Brawn GP running on fumes to impress potential sponsors. It may or may not be the case. But the message is clear – the car is not bad. Who would have expected Brawn GP doing this well on pretty much their first day out ?
I would also like to know what McLaren guys are up to. James Allen suggests at his blog that team clearly has a problem with their rear wing or diffuser but even if that is the case their car surely can’t be over 2 seconds of the pace …
The other team that has a serious problem is Scuderia Toro Rosso. Their problem are their Sebastiens – read more here .
Barcelona Times March 9, 2009:
1. Heidfeld – BMW Sauber – 1:20.338
2. Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:20.908 + 0.570
3. Trulli – Toyota – 1:20.937 + 0.599
4. Button – Brawn – 1:21.140 + 0.802
5. Piquet – Renault – 1:21.662 + 1.324
6. Bourdais – Toro Rosso – 1:22.158 + 1.820
7. Webber – Red Bull – 1:22.246 + 1.908
8. Sutil – Force India – 1:22.452 + 2.114
9. Nakajima – Williams – 1:22.813 + 2.475
10. Kovalainen – McLaren – 1:22.948 + 2.610
And this is how Kotenok saw the things himself in Barcelona yesterday:
I was today to the training session as you already knew. Rather good weather allowed the teams to do a lot of work. I didn’t manage to see the (Toro Rosso) launch because the circuit was still closed to the public, so I only could see the car afterwards. Not in direct battle with the Red Bull Racing though so I’m unable to compare them. But I think that it has good rhythm.
Today I also had to change my mind about Brawn GP’s car. It is rather good and surprised me to see that also has some good speed. They do not lose too much time per lap to front running teams (I remember past seasons when I simply cracked to laugh when saw the Honda on the track. This time I was impressed). What I didn’t expect is that the Force India’s would be such an unbalanced car. Sutil was doing a lot of mistakes at any kind of turns, slow and fast ones, unable to control it’s response and sliding everywhere where I saw him. BMW was quick, so were the main contenders Ferrari and Toyota *. But they tested less than other teams did working with the car a lot in the pits. Piquet was driving for Renault today, and I noticed him faster than he was last time I saw him. At Williams was Nakajima today, his work was consistent without failures and he simulated a whole race weekend today. Tomorrow they will prepare the set-up for Australian GP.
In general, I can say the cars are nice too see now. How we could say that they were ugly ? HAHA Yes they are quite strange, but when seen on the track the opinion changes I may say, especially when they are coming out from a turn. I enjoyed it’s aggressive driving style and look. You’ll be impressed how the cars can run close to each other in Melbourne .
* I took the liberty to replace McLaren with Toyota among the quick ones assuming that was a typo.