Nine F1 teams tested at the Circuit de Catalunya last week – Force India were absent from the test.
Each day’s running saw a little rain, but not very much, and the cars typically completed around 80 laps each. Here’s what they were doing and how they go on:
Several teams relied on their test drivers for this test. Ferrari had Luca Badoer in the car on all three days and he was fastest on Thursday and Friday while testing a variety of new aerodynamic parts. He stopped with a hydraulic problem on Friday and came to an embarassing halt on Saturday when he ran out of fuel.
Robert Kubica may have won his first Grand Prix at Montreal but team mate Nick Heidfeld has been struggling. Heidfeld has not been able to get heat into his tyres quickly enough during qualifying, so the BMW team gave him one of the days at last week’s test that was originally going to be Kubica’s. Kubica did the first two days, and Heidfeld the last, and the German driver pronounced himself happy with his progress afterwards.
Renault Development Driver and GP2 race winner Romain Grosjean had his first day in the R28, completing 60 laps before being halted by engine problems.
Renault and Red Bull (both the Renault-engined teams) each tried asymmetrical cooling solutions for their engines. This was presumably to evaluate how marginal they can go on cooling as the louvres that allow the heat to exit bring an aerodynamic penalty.
Nelson Piquet Jnr drove the final two days of the test and after an gearbox failure on Friday set the fastest time of the test on Saturday. His 1’20.076 was almost 0.4s faster than Pedro de la Rosa’s McLaren and both were quicker than the fastest time seen at the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, Felipe Massa’s 1’20.584 set in Q2. Piquet said afterward the time had been set during a qualifying simulation.
Nico Rosberg drove the car on Friday and test driver Nico Hülkenberg, currently fifth in the F3 Euroseries, did the other two, going off the track at turn four on Saturday and causing the session to be stopped briefly.
Red Bull tested a revised front wing at Catalunya, although it’s not known if they’re going to use it soon. According to Geoff Willis the team will use lighter versions of some bodywork and suspension components at Many-Cours, followed later by revisions to the rear wing and exhaust.
The team used test driver Sebastien Buemi on Thursday (who stopped twice with car trouble), followed by David Coulthard and Mark Webber on the next two days. Webber was among the drivers who stopped with a mechanical problem on Saturday.
Kamui Kobayashi made it three GP2 drivers on track on Thursday, getting even more time in an F1 cockpit. He handed over to Timo Glock for the last two days but on Friday Glock had to stop with a hydraulic failure.
Toro Rosso only did the last two days of the session, an interesting development considering they have to get to grips with their new STR3 chassis. Sebastien Bourdais ran on Friday and Sebastian Vettel took over on Saturday, only to suffer a mechanical failure. The cars were slowest on the two days they appeared.
While regular test driver Alexander Wurz contested the Le Mans 24 Hours ex-Super Aguri Anthony Davidson was drafted in at Honda, the team choosing him over their other test drivers Mike Conway and Luca Filippi – and Davidson’s team mate Takuma Sato. He drove on Thursday and Rubens Barrichello took over for the other two days.
The team did not bring any significant aerodynamic developments to the test (they are believed to be concentrating development on their 2009 car) and instead worked on addressing some of the set-up problems they have had in recent races. They did try some new suspension components, however.
Force India were not present at the test.
McLaren also relied on their test drivers with Gary Paffett in the car on Thursday and Pedro de la Rosa doing the final two days. De la Rosa stopped with a fault on Saturday but was second fastest. The team appeared to be running larger wings (or flow conditioners) in front of the cockpit.
The next F1 test will be from the 25-27th of June at Silverstone.