With only 82 days to go before the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, the teams are feverishly working away on their new cars. With a big shake up in the regulations, the new chargers will look considerably different to their 2008 predecessors, and with the ongoing financial issues facing the sport and the teams, most squads are opting for low-key launches at the upcoming test sessions in Spain and Portugal.
Ferrari will reveal their 2009 machine early, as is typical for Maranello. The Italian squad’s launches have been relatively understated of recent years and this season will be no different. Previously, the car would be photographed in the team’s studios, and the car would be shook down at one of the local circuits with limited press available to note down quotes. Ferrari are planning on letting Felipe Massa complete a few installation laps at Fiorano on January 12th.
Toyota will be next up on January 15th, rolling their TF109 out just 24 hours prior to McLaren’s unveiling of their MP4-24. Renault and Williams are due to take the wraps off their new machines on January 19th while BMW will launch the F1.09 the following day on the 20th. Scuderia Toro Rosso will likely use the Red Bull RB5, which will be shown to the press on February 9th at the Jerez test. STR may have to wait awhile before they receive their new car, although probably not as long as they did in 2008 due to the significant changes in the rules. Force India will also have to wait a while before they can get hold of a new motor as the Silverstone-based team work hard at incorporating the Mercedes V8 power plant.
Regarding the tests, the teams are due to descend on Jerez once again on January 20th for a four day run, the day after the Renault and Williams launches, and the same day as the BMW unveiling. It is expected that four of the teams will test in Spain, while the other four will use the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal (Force India may not run). It is expected that Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Toyota will test at the Portimao circuit.
The second big test of 2009 will commence on February 10th, using the facilities at Jerez again. It is expected that all teams will be present, although the future of Honda still remains unknown. The running at Jerez will once again be four days, although last year the teams only managed limited running due to thick fog on the track in the mornings.