F1: Portimao testing report 20/01/2009

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSaturday, January 24th, 2009

 
 

It was close to being ‘as you were’ on day two of the inaugural 2009 test at the Portimao circuit as Sebastien Buemi topped the timesheet in his modified 2008-spec Toro Rosso.

Only the kind of weather that would raise eyebrows in Britain, never mind on The Algarve, introduced a note of drama and some unusually divergent lap times.

Hail and heavy rain put a serious dent in proceedings and caused the track to be closed for much of the day.

The Toro Rosso newcomer managed a fastest lap of 1:34.429 – fast enough to ensure he topped the unofficial timesheet by a margin of several seconds on his previous day’s wet-weather time.

Behind him, as on Monday, came Pedro de la Rosa in the recently-unveiled McLaren MP4-24. The 2009-spec machine had nearly five seconds behind Buemi on the previous day, thanks to McLaren’s earlier caution over wet-weather running.

Today the veteran Spaniard had cut the gap to around three seconds with a time of 1:37.512.

His team said: “Another day governed by the inclement weather, which grew so severe at times that running was considered to be dangerous. The team also decided to run using a 2008-spec rear wing as a precautionary measure to increase downforce.

“Nonetheless, Pedro was able to dodge the hailstorms to complete three long runs – including one 22-lap stint – to provide the team with further information on MP4-24’s handling characteristics and componentry.

“Opting not to run with KERS, the team reported that the car performed without any mechanical or electronic problems today.”

Toyota, who recently admitted that only a decisive early-season grand prix victory could secure its future in Formula One, saw the benefit of an old hand behind the wheel.

Race driver Jarno Trulli took over from tester and GP2 graduate Kamui Kobayashi and promoted the squad to third with a far more competitive time than the rookie managed.

Renault’s Nelson A Piquet floundered in fourth place with just nine laps to his name after the extreme weather conditions made further running impractical.

And fifth came Williams’ Nico Rosberg, able to put in 31 laps at the price of speeds that were several seconds short of those achieved on the previous day by tester Nico Hulkenberg.

In Valencia, in neighbouring Spain, BMW were enjoying balmy conditions by comparison, with sunny skies and temperatures approaching the sixties.

They made good use of the time to give their 2009-spec F1.09 a run-out with race driver Robert Kubica at the wheel.

He professed himself satisfied with progress: “It was a good shakedown without a technical problem. Although the track was missing a little bit of grip because there was only one car running, we already learned a lot about how the car is responding to set-up changes.”

Finally, Kimi Rakkonen spent a second day testing his new Ferrari F60 at the team’s Mugello circuit – and a second day battling poor weather. Intermittent rain and a damp track limited him to 42 laps and a fastest time of 1:33.920.

Portimao day two test times:

  • Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: 1:34.429 (48 laps)
  • Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren: 1:37.512 (62 laps)
  • Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:42.399 (30 laps)
  • Nelson A. Piquet, Renault: 1:45.860 (9 laps)
  • Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:51.580 (31 laps)

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