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Posts Tagged ‘MP4-24’

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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