Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category

Kimi Raikkonen in Ferrari F60 at Bahrain

The four day tests at Jerez and Bahrain concluded on Friday, with the Bahrain running resumed after a two day sandstorm, and all teams starting to set some competitive lap times. In Spain, Sebastian Bourdais set a 1:17.472 in his 2008 car, whilst Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso battled it out for the fastest time in an ’09 car.

It was McLaren and Hamilton that came out on top, again by a small margin, but not quite as small as the previous day. His 1:19.632 was two tenths of a second faster than the R29’s best time. Alonso did a lot of work in the Renault and said afterwards: “Overall, we have to be very happy as we managed to do lots of laps and the car responded well to the set-up changes we made, so I think we’ve found some good solutions. Every day the driveability of the car is improving and although we still have a lot of work to do before the start of the season, we are definitely moving in the right direction.” Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber were having their own battle for third place. Rosberg put his Williams ahead by two tenths after Webber’s RB5 stopped out on track and brought out the red flags. Kazuki Nakajima was also out for Williams but, despite completing 34 laps, he failed to set a time, by driving through the pit lane on each attempt.

Meanwhile, Ferrari, BMW and Toyota were back in action at Bahrain, after being forced to sit out for two long days. Kimi Raikkonen posted a 1:33.325 in the F60. Of the days running, he said: “I immediately had a good feeling although it’s still too early to say where we are compared to our competitors. The car is improving and there are no especially critical areas. We used the KERS also today and I’m happy with how it works, apart from some minor childhood disease.” Jarno Trulli was out for Toyota and just a tenth down on Kimi’s time, whilst BMW’s Christian Klien was a further couple of tenths behind. Another four day test at Bahrain kicks off this Monday.


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Fernando Alonso in Renault R29 at Jerez

The four day test at Jerez continued into Thursday, with newly re-signed Sebastien Bourdais taking over the running of Toro Rosso’s 2008 car and, of course, setting the fastest time.

Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton was back in the cockpit and only just managed to keep the McLaren MP4-24 ahead of the other ’09 cars by the very smallest of margins. Sebastian Vettel was back for Red Bull and just 0.001 seconds away from Hamilton’s best time. “Today’s test gave me the first opportunity to drive MP4-24 in warm, dry conditions – and I’m very encouraged by what I felt. The car feels strong, very similar to last year’s car, in fact. It doesn’t take long to get used to the new buttons in the cockpit [KERS and front wing flap adjustments] but the real test for everyone now is to understand the slick tyres ahead of the first race in Melbourne next month,” said the Briton. Kazuki Nakajima was also out for Williams and over half a second faster than than the Renualt R29 which continued at the back of the time sheets, this time in the hands of Fernando Alonso.

Meanwhile in Bahrain, testing was completely stopped as the sandstorm continued at the track. All three drivers (Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica and Timo Glock) could only complete 1 installation lap each, before packing away and hoping for the weather to clear on Friday.

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Felipe Massa in Bahrain during sandstorm

The four day test in Jerez and Bahrain continued on Wednesday as, to nobodies surprise, Sebastien Buemi took to the top of the time sheets in his 2008 Toro Rosso at Jerez as he completed a full race simulation, whilst Heikki Kovalainen improved the pace from the previous day, and set the fastest time in an ’09 car.

Mark Webber took over from Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull and was just over half a second behind the McLaren in his first appearance in an F1 car after breaking his leg. Of the days testing he had this to say: “I’m very relieved of course. It has been a tough few months for me, but I’ve had good people around me and the team have been fantastic as well. There were a lot of questions asked going into today, but I answered some questions for myself and it turned out to be okay.” Nelson Piquet Jr once again sat at the bottom of the times, behind Williams and Kazuki Nakajima, who had taken over from Nico Hulkenburg and did the most running of anyone in a 2009 racer.

Meanwhile in Bahrain an unexpeted sandstorm severly reduced testing in the desert, where teams had headed to avoid bad weather, albeit rain, in the first place. Felipe Massa was fastest, but was only able to complete 14 laps. Robert Kubica and Timo Glock were out for BMW and Toyota, but all three now have some catching up to do.

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Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull RB5 at Jerez

Tuesday saw the latest pre-season tests begin with Toyota, Ferrari and BMW moving to Bahrain in the hope to avoid rain, and Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Williams, McLaren and Renault sticking in Spain. Sebastien Buemi added to his huge amount of mileage in last year’s Toro Rosso, and finished top at Jerez with his 3 second advantage, whilst things were a whole lot closer in the desert.

Fellow Seb, this one named Vettel, was busy giving the Red Bull RB5 it’s first few runs after the car was launched earlier that morning.  He set the fastest time of all the ’09 contenders before he was forced out of the car early due to a gearbox problem. Nico Hulkenburg was a busy man as he put the Williams Fw31 just three tenths behind Vettel’s shiny new Red Bull. Heikki Kovalainen put his McLaren half a second ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr’s Renault, with rain only making a brief interruption in the day’s running.

Meanwhile at Bahrain, Timo Glock put Toyota’s TF109 on top, just 0.1 seconds ahead of Felipe Massa and the F60, who was in turn just 0.1 seconds ahead of Robert Kubica and the F1.09.

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Nico Rosberg in Williams FW31 at Algarve

The rain finally backed down for the third day of testing at the Algarve. Sebastien Buemi once again used his 2008 car advantage to set the fastest lap, a 1:27.987. Nico Rosberg took over testing duties from Nico Hulkenburg and was the fastest in a 2009 car, having taken full advantage of the improved weather and completing 143 laps. His best time was 1:29.729, just 1.8 seconds shy of the modified ’08 Toro Rosso.

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton made his first appearance in an F1 car since the final round of 2008 in Brazil. He posted the third fastest time in the ’09 McLaren. Timo Glock joined the test for Toyota and lapped just over half a second slower than Hamilton before his TF109 caught fire and brought the red flag out for half an hour. Fernando Alonso had troubles in his new Renault too, stopping at the pit entrance towards the end of the session.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s decision to switch circuits due to rain prediction in Portugal was only getting worse. Their third day at the wet Mugello circuit saw Felipe Massa take over and set a lap of 1:33.353, fastest than Kimi Raikkonen had managed the previous two days.

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Sebastien Buemi completed the second day of testing at the Portimao Algarve circuit fastest, last Tuesday. He continued to test for Toro Rosso in a modified version of their 2008 car, which gave him a 3 second advantage ahead of the other drivers on track. Pedro de la Rosa continued the similarities from Monday as the fastest man in a 2009 car. His McLaren MP4-24 set a time of 1:37.512.

Jarno Trulli took over from Kamui Kobayashi and put Toyota third on the time sheets. Nelson Piquet Jr’s Renault suffered an engine failure, the Brazilian only managing to complete 9 laps, but Williams and Nico Rosberg rounded out the time sheets, 6 seconds down on Piquet. Once again running was limited due to rain, with a hailstorm hitting the track just after the session ended.

Ferrari continued to test at Mugello, with their plan to avoid rain not really going all that well. Kimi Raikkonen lapped a 1:33.920 in the wet conditions, half a second faster than the previous day. Felipe Massa was ready to take over on Wednesday.

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Kamui Kobayashi in Toyota TF109 at Algarve

Sebastien Buemi, recently signed to race at Toro Rosso this year, completed the first official testing day of 2009 fastest at the Algarve circuit in Portugal. He was the only man on track driving a 2008-spec car, with everyone else testing their newly launched ’09 cars, meaning Buemi was able to end the day a full 5 seconds faster than Pedro de la Rosa, who was in turn fastest of the new cars in his McLaren MP4-24.

The day began with some last-minute 2009 car launches. Renault held a low key launch for their R29, with Nelson Piquet Jr stepping in the car and managing a 1:48.907, the fourth fastest time of the day. Meanwhile, Williams held a very, very low key unveiling of the FW31, with third driver Nico Hulkenburg taking the new car to the third fastest time, a 1:46.335. The Toyota TF109 was also in action, with Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel, but they, along with everyone else, had limited testing runs due to poor weather.

Ferrari had decided to avoid the forecasted rain in Portugal and instead tested on their own at Mugello. Unfortunately for the Italian team it also rained at their own test track, so Kimi Raikkonen completed only a few laps in his first outing of the F60, with his best lap a 1:34.430. Both tests continue into Tuesday.

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