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F1: Portimao testing report 22/01/2009

And the big news from Thursday’s F1 test session in Portugal is… that there’s nothing to report after a day when the weather was the only player in town.

The disrupted session, which had already seen two earlier curtailed days and was described by the teams as “frustrating,” could not have come at a worse time for a sport that is desperate to reduce costs – and be seen to be economising.


Heavy rain and poor visibility grounded the medical helicopter which meant track officials had to close the circuit for safety reasons on the last scheduled day of testing before Jerez from February 10.

No times were recorded as a result and the teams were reduced to sitting in their garages. Despite the occasional venture onto the track to assess conditions no progress could be made.

After Lewis Hamilton managed to put in 81 laps on the previous day, McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was deprived of his chance of track time – the only one of the drivers from last year’s championship-leading teams not to get a decent crack at familiarisation.

The team said: “A frustrating time for every team attending the final day of testing at Portimao.

“With conditions showing no sign of lifting, all running was finally cancelled at 16:15. Although Heikki Kovalainen was on hand for the session, the team felt it was more prudent to remain in the garage during the brief one-hour window between nine and 10am when the track was open.

“The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team continues its winter testing programme in Jerez, Spain, on Feb 10 as it continues to hone its MP4-24 car ahead of the start of the 2009 season.”

At Mugello in Italy Ferrari had better luck with Felipe Massa able to run on a dry track, accumulating a large amount of data which the team says will be analysed over the next few days.

Last year’s championship runner-up put in 103 laps with a quickest in a time of 1.23.981, his day being slightly curtailed after the Ferrari programme ended slightly ahead of schedule, a few minutes before the track was closed, because of a problem linked to the hydraulics.

In Valencia BMW was able to continue its evaluation programme for the F1.09 with race driver Robert Kubica behind the wheel.

He spent the morning working on different set-up solutions and race start simulations. The team said that, due to strong winds in the afternoon, the engineers switched their focus to overall reliability. Several long runs helped amass further basic data.

Kubica said of the session: “We got some interesting results which will help us understand the new BMW Sauber F1.09 better.”

While Portimao testing has now come to an end, and Ferrari has completed its Mugello programme, Nick Heidfeld is now due to take over for a further two days’ work in Valencia.


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