Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Heidfeld tops as Brawn GP and STR debut

Monday 9th March 2009

Although Nick Heidfeld set the pace on the opening day of testing at Barcelona, it was the debuts of the BGP01 and STR4 that caught the attention.

Both Brawn GP and Toro Rosso left it late to their new 2009 challengers as this week's outing marks the penultimate test before the start of the new season. Both teams, though, were quickly out of the blocks with Jenson Button even setting the pace in the morning session in the BGP01.

But by the end of the day, and after a total of 82 laps, the Brit found himself fourth on the timesheets having been overtaken by the three outfits that have largely dominated pre-season testing, BMW, Ferrari and Toyota.

BMW's Heidfeld proved to be the man to beat on Monday as he clocked a 1:20.339 during his 92 laps to take the P1 slot from Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Jarno Trulli once again impressed for Toyota as he was only marginally slower than the Ferrari, finishing in third place.

"This morning started off with drizzly conditions but the rain quickly tailed off, giving us the chance to have a good day's work. The afternoon was windier but the track surface was fine," said Trulli.

"The car felt well balanced from the start and we worked on several new things on the aero side which gave us positive results. We were competitive throughout the day and we collected a lot of data so this was a useful start to the test."

Button was fourth ahead of the Renault of Nelson Piquet Jr, who for the first time in what must feel like ages for the Brazilian found himself far from the bottom of the timesheets.

Sixth place went to Seb Bourdais in the new STR4, a positive result for the team, who managed to complete twenty laps more than a grand prix distance at the Spanish circuit.

"It's much too early to talk about performance," said Bourdais. "However, the car seems to work well and we've already learned a lot today. If we can carry on like this for the next few days, it will be a good starting point for the season."

Mark Webber and Adrian Sutil completed the top eight while Williams' Kazuki Nakajima and McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen brought up the rear. It is a worrying result for McLaren, who debuted a new rear wing, but still finished 2.6s off the pace. Pitpass reported that McLaren were doing long runs, maybe they're sandbagging like BMW last year.

01. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:20.339 92 laps
02. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:20.908 +0.569 80 laps
03. J. Trulli Toyota 1:20.937 +0.598 118 laps
04. J. Button Brawn GP 1:21.140 +0.801 82 laps
05. N. Piquet Jr. Renault 1:21.662 +1.323 124 laps
06. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:22.158 +1.819 96 laps
07. M. Webber Red Bull 1:22.246 +1.907 115 laps
08. A. Sutil Force India 1:22.452 +2.113 127 laps
09. K. Nakajima Williams 1:22.813 +2.474 111 laps
10. H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:22.948 +2.609 87 laps

Source : Planet F1

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