The first official test since the start of the season ended at Barcelona today. The four-day test threw up some confusing times as some drivers tried out slick tyres for next year while others stayed on grooves, and today’s running was spoiled by rain.
They will be back at the track in just eight days for the Spanish Grand Prix. Here’s a look at what the teams were up to and what they reported.
Ferrari revealed its highly anticipated vented nose cone assembly, although the team revealed it was alarmed to see details of the design leaked to the press. Clearly security is still a problem for the team.
Felipe Massa was fastest on the first day, using slick tyres to set a 1’18.339, which proved to be the quickest time of the session. The following day he was quickest of those on grooved tyres, setting a 1’20.283. Michael Schumacher took over from him on Wednesday to try the slicks and was second fastest, but Kimi Raikkonen’s appearance on Thursday was spoiled by rain, and the world champion did only 34 laps.
Ferrari like all the other teams present only ran one car in the test.
BMW, as usual, gave little away in testing, with no obvious outward changes to their cars. Nick Heidfeld stopped with a technical problem on Monday.
Robert Kubica took over on Wednesday but hit the wall at turn seven. He spent his two days in the cockpit doing work on the slicks tyres and 2009-specification aerodynamics.
Fernando Alonso does not feel Renault will are better than their rivals in the upcoming races:
The car is going better with the changes, it is true. But we will not go forwards much – we are still unable to escape from the middle group of the grid. We have improved but the others have as well. The picture is going to be more or less the same as it was before this test.
This despite the team appearing to throw parts at the R28 in an attempt to narrow the gap to the leaders. Chief among which were a new damper understood to mimic the actions of the mass damper that was controversially banned in 2006, and an extended engine cover mimicking that seen on the Red Bull.
Alonso was quickest on slicks on Wednesday with a 1’18.483. That was his second day of testing, Nelson Piquet Jnr driving the car on Monday and Thursday.
Nico Rosberg did the two middles days, his work bookended by two appearances from Kazuki Nakajima. Nakajima went off on Monday, and after trying the slicks Rosberg was very critical of the prospect of using them without tyre warmers:
First of all it’s still not good. It’s still not right. You can’t run tyres like this next year. That’s my opinion, definitely not. It’s ridiculous. Running out of the pits it’s ridiculous. It’s not racing, it’s survival. It’s just survival out there, and that’s ridiculous, it’s not racing.
Mark Webber was quickest on the final day of testing as rain hit the track. David Coulthard did the first two days’ testing.
Toyota did very little running on slick tyres, perhaps because they planned to use them on Thursday, but were caught out by the weather.
Timo Glock spent most of the first two days working on the car set up for the Spanish Grand Prix, before trying out the slick tyres. Jarno Trulli ran grooves on Wednesday but spent most of Thursday in the garage, covering only 18 laps.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso revealed their 2008 car on Wednesday which, unsurprisingly, proved to be basically the same in outward appearance to the Red Bull RB5.
However Sebastien Bourdais crashed the car and the cause was later determined to be driver error. It may now not make its début in the Turkish Grand Prix as planned, which could lead to the team having to introduce it at Monte-Carlo, which is the least ideal circuit to bring a new car to.
The team had not run on Monday or Tuesday.
Honda tried out more aerodynamic tweaks including some unsightly extra wings at the front of the car reminiscent of the ugly ‘Dumbo’ wings seen in testing last year, which they never raced with. They complemented them with front wheel trims adorned with more ‘Earthdreams’ imagery.
Nevertheless Rubens Barrichello was quickest of all on Tuesday, using slick tyres, and was only six-tenths slower than Massa’s time from Friday. Alexander Wurz was second-fastest on Monday behind Massa – more clues that Honda are putting most of thier effort into their 2009 programme?
Jenson Button had the car on the wet Thursday and did 41 laps.
Super Aguri were not present and their continued presence in F1 is in doubt.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was another driver to rave about slick tyres (above). It was particularly interesting to hear how one of the top karting drivers of his generation described the sensation of driving on ‘proper’ racing tyres:
It was a really good feeling. With so much grip it was like going back to go-karts. I enjoyed it.
Pedro de la Rosa did the first day, Lewis Hamilton the middle to (and was the fastest on grooves on Wednesday), and Heikki Kovalainen the final day, going second in the rain. But making comparisons between what they and Ferrari and BMW were doing was, ever ever, frustratingly difficult…