Damp conditions on Portugal’s Algarve saw a subdued start to Lewis Hamilton’s 2009 campaign as he took the wheel of the McLaren MP4-24 on his first public outing with the car.
Sebastien Buemi’s 2008-spec Toro Rosso was still the fastest on the track by nearly two seconds on the first day in which the weather was good enough to allow normal running. He posted an unofficial time of 1:27.987.
Second was Williams’ Nico Rosberg, showing a dramatic improvement on his curtailed first day of testing with a fastest lap of 1:29.729. Williams’ technical director Sam Michaels said the team had enjoyed a constructive day.
Hamilton was third, and the first driver not to break 1 minute 30 with a time of 1:30.242. He said: “It was good to be back working with the team – it felt like I’d hardly been away because it was easy to slip back into the routine.
“It’s amazing to think that, while I’ve been to Woking throughout the winter, I haven’t properly driven a Formula 1 car since the Brazilian Grand Prix two months ago, but everything very quickly felt normal today.”
He said that the first test was all about getting used to the new car, the new regulations and about giving feeback to engineers rather than setting the fastest time.
“I’m pleased to report that the car feels good, we’ve made lots of progress over the winter and I’m looking forward to developing the car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix
“It’s going to be an extremely busy winter. I’ve only been in the car for one day and our usual joblist for the weeks ahead is already enormous.
“With the limitations on testing during the season, and the few sessions we have over the next two months, this is going to be an intense time and absolutely critical for every team.”
His team added that the weather had shown marked improvement over the previous days – but still featured a damp track during the morning that required the continued use of an 2008-spec rear wing and intermediate tyres.
“The team was briefly hampered at lunchtime by a precautionary engine systems shutdown, which was quickly rectified without the need to change the unit.
“In the afternoon, conditions sufficiently improved to allow an ’09-spec rear wing and several sets of slicks to be bolted to the car, resulting in Lewis’s best time of 1:30.242.”
In fourth place behind Hamilton on the timesheet was Toyota’s Timo Glock, taking over from colleague Jarno Trulli for his first taste of the new car.
It resulted in a time of 1:30.878 followed by Renault’s Fernando Alonso, also testing for the first time, and putting a fastest lap of 1:31.743. “It is very early days,” he said later, and the test crew headed by chief engineer Christian Silk remained positive.
At Ferrari’s test track at Mugello in Italy, Felipe Massa returned to the F60 amidst damp and overcast weather to put in some more development miles following colleague Kimi Raikkonen’s stint behind the wheel. He managed 104 laps and a best time of 1:33.353.
And the sun shone on BMW’s private test session in Valencia where Robert Kubica was able to put in a further 99 laps while working on brake setup and tyre compounds.
Portimao day three test times:
- Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso: 1:27.987 (128 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:29.729 (143 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:30.242 (81 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:30.878 (63 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:31.743 (84 laps)