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Posts Tagged ‘McLaren’

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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McLaren MP4-24 at Launch in Woking

McLaren became the third team to reveal their 2009 car on Friday. The MP4-24, which Lewis Hamilton will use to defend his drivers championship, was launched in a small press gathering at the teams headquarters in Woking, a contrast to McLaren’s large scale launch events at Valencia in 2007 and Stuttgart in 2008.

Having clinched the drivers championship in a nail-biting finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, McLaren are confident their 2009 campaign will produce similar success, and hope to achieve their first constructors championship title since 1998. Speaking at the launch, Hamilton said: “The arrival of a new car is always an emotional moment for any racing driver, and the unveiling of MP4-24 is even more special for me, not only because the car looks absolutely stunning but also because it carries the number one. I believe this year’s World Championship is open, given the new rule changes and that’s a great prospect for every Formula 1 fan.” McLaren boss, Ron Dennis, spoke of the challenges faced with the new regulations, saying: “Extensive rule changes require extensive amount of work. These are the biggest rules changes we have seen in 15 years. That requires the technologists in our organisation, they are not just engineers but scientist with high qualifications, to go back to a plain piece of paper. As ever, we exist to win and our target remains the successful acquisition of both this year’s Drivers’ and Constructors’ world titles.”

The launch was somewhat overshadowed however, by the news that Dennis would step down from his team principal role before the season began. For many though, McLaren remain the favourites to lift the 2009 trophy at the end of the season. The team will begin their testing schedule of the new car on Monday at Portimao in Portugal.

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Ron Dennis has announced at the launch of McLaren’s 2009 car that he will step down from the team principal role he has occupied for 27 years. In that time he has helped Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Aytron Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton to world drivers titles and become an influential figure in Formula 1, but his decision to step down, which has been rumoured since the end of the 2007 season, comes at a time where he feels the team is ready to move on with a new principal, following their victory in the drivers championship last year.

Dennis announced he would leave the job to McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh, who has been working at the British team since 1989. He also said he will take a step back and focus on other commitments within the McLaren group. Speaking to the press he said: “I intend to raise my own game because I think everybody in our organisation at every level realises this is a tough period in which we are going to work and of course we are a very diverse organisation now. We have a clear intention for our production car programme which is really a challenge. Any product we bring to the market will certainly fall the other side of this financial period. Don’t see it as some sort of retirement, I want to work harder in other areas and having to plan those tasks around the GP calendar is disruptive to the process. It is a job that Martin will embrace and enjoy. It is a job over the years we have shared anyway, but it will be his decision to influence things at a grand prix circuit.”

Dennis also said he will continue to attend some races this year. He will officially step down from his team principal role on the 1st of March.

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Kazuki Nakajima in 2009 spec Williams at Jerez

The final testing day of 2008 took place on Wednesday at both Jerez and the new Algarve circuit, with all the teams in action developing or starting to develop their 2009 car in preparation for the first car launches next month.

At Jerez, Sebastian Vettel finally beat Sebastien Buemi to the fastest time for Red Bull, Buemi having sat at the top of the time sheets for 5 days. The German’s 1:16.617 lap was easily the fastest of the entire test, and beat Buemi’s time by 3 tenths of a second. Robert Kubica and Christian Klien continued their testing of the 2009 BMW and it’s KERS. Kubica’s best lap was marginally faster than Klien’s, who completed just 38 laps. Kazuki Nakajima had the most to do in his 2009 Williams spec car, three tenths of the pace of the BMWs.

Pedro de la Rosa continued at the top of the Algarve time sheets with a best lap of 1:28.993. Luca Badoer continued his duties for Ferrari as the only other man out on track. He finished the day over 1 second behind de la Rosa’s McLaren.

Formula 1 testing will now return in January at many different locations, as the teams begin to send their 2009 cars out for their first runs.

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Luca Badoer in F2008 at Algarve

Testing continued at both Jerez and the new Algarve circuit into Tuesday, with Red Bull and McLaren remaining on top as times improved from Monday.

Sebastien Buemi was once again on top in an RB4, setting a best lap of 1:17.029 during his extended running, after stepping in for the injured Mark Webber. He was joined by Sebastian Vettel, who had to settle for second behind the Red Bull tester by just under 0.3 seconds. Nick Heidfeld was a full 2 seconds further behind in his BMW fitted with slick tyres, whilst Robert Kubica drove to fourth with KERS. Kazuki Nakajima closed the gap to the BMWs, now three tenths behind.

McLaren and Ferrari continued their running at the Algarve circuit, with Pedro de la Rosa taking over from Gary Paffett. The Spaniard topped the time sheets in the cold conditions, with a 1:30.080, ahead of Ferrari testers Luca Badoer and Mark Gene.

Wednesday sees the final day of 2008 testing at both Jerez and the Algarve.

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