Sebastien Buemi has continued his reign of dominance in pre-season testing by once again going fastest and leaving all others behind him. However, as it was noted in 2008, Buemi is driving a 2008-spec. car, while other teams were evaluating their new 2009 chassis and components. This puts Sebastien at a distinct advantage in terms of lap time, but 65 laps of the Portimao track is nothing to laughed at considering the weather gave way in the afternoon and limited testing runs for most. McLaren, Renault, Williams and Toyota were also present, charging around the Portuguese circuit in their new 2009 challengers.
McLaren have already put their MP4-23 through some paces, having run the car over the weekend following it’s launch on Friday back in the UK. Today, Pedro De La Rosa continued driving the car and managed a second quickest time, or fastest of the 2009-spec. cars on the track. De La Rosa’s time of 1m46.076s puts the Spaniard 4.5s down on Buemi in the Scuderia Toro Rosso and 0.3s ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the new Williams FW31.
Hulkenberg had been present at the launch of the 2009 Williams in the morning, the team opting for a low-key unveiling on the same day as Renault. The upcoming German driver completed 28 laps which comprised of some installation runs in the morning.
This morning has been full wet, but the weather hasn’t really affected what we wanted to do, because our goal has been to get the car out on track, check all the systems work, be sure parts aren’t touching each other, nothing is burning, and that’s all proved to be okay.
It would be good to get some dry running, and the weather should allow this later in the week. In terms of first impressions of the car, we of course haven’t spent any time on set-up or performance work yet, that’ll all come later, but so far the car is running fine. Sam Michael.
Similarly, Renault ran Nelson Piquet Jr. for their initial laps in the new R29. Fernando Alonso was trackside to keep an eye on proceedings and will drive the new chassis later in the week. Piquet managed fourth fastest but was 2.6s shy of Hulkenberg’s Williams. Kamui Kobayashi completed the tables in the Toyota TF109 (complete with shark fin engine cover), lapping the circuit 46 times to post a time 2s down on Piquet Jr.
|1.||Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m41.528s||65 Laps|
|2.||Pedro De La Rosa McLaren||1m46.076s||28 Laps|
|3.||Nico Hulkenberg Williams||1m46.335s||28 Laps|
|4.||Nelson Piquet Jr. Renault||1m48.907s||33 Laps|
|5.||Kamui Kobayashi Toyota||1m50.989s||46 Laps|
Meanwhile in Mugello…
Ferrari had chosen at the last minute to pull out of the public test in Portugal because they felt the weather wouldn’t hold off long enough for the team to get any decent evaluating done on the new F60. The decision seemed a little strange at the time as other team’s hadn’t withdrawn. Although, it should be noted that McLaren and Toyota arrived in Portimao early and both Williams and Renault had organised their launches to be in Portugal. Despite this though, Ferrari decided to shift their test to their own Mugello circuit in Italy. Where it rained.
Kimi Raikkonen completed a few trouble free laps in the new car, his first experience of the F60 after Felipe Massa completed the initial shakedown on the day of the launch last week. The Finnish driver managed 56 laps of the test track and reported no problems. Kimi will continue to test the car tomorrow, away from prying eyes and media intrusion. For the record, Raikkonen’s lap time was 1m34.430s.
Photo © Toyota Motorsport Gmbh/Ferrari Spa.