FEBRUARY 10, 2009
A day at the test tracks
At this time of year it is very dangerous to start prognosticating about which cars are fast and which are not. The drivers may already have an idea whether they have a car that is capable of doing well, but they have yet to run with the whole field and so no-one can really be sure. And with new cars still appearing there is still the occasional urge to bang in a really quick time for cosmetic reasons. A better picture will emerge as one test rolls into another and we start to see patterns of performance emerging.
At the moment, however, Toro Rosso is still topping the charts with its 2008 car and on Tuesday in Jerez it was new boy Sebastien Buemi who led the way.
Sebastian Vettel was next in the Red Bull RB5 - which was having its first full day of running. The car ran for 63 laps which was rather better than Monday's 14. Being the quickest of the 2009 cars may not be that significant achievement. Nico Hulkenberg was next up with the new Williams, which completed 82 laps. Heikki Kovalainen was next in his first test with the new McLaren MP4-24 and the team made much of the fact that he was did only a few quick laps with new rubber at the end of the day. Renault brought up the rear with Nelson Piquet achieving just 35 laps in the course of the day as he worked on the KERS development programme. The team needs to get more mileage.
Over in Bahrain Timo Glock was the fastest in warm andd sunny conditions at the Sakhir track. There was a little mist in the morning session but after that Toyota, BMW and Ferrari were all able to run a lot of laps. Felipe Massa was a tenth of a second slower than Glock in his Ferrari, while Robert Kubica was tyhe slowest of the drivers, although the times were still close with two-tenths of a second covering all the three cars.
"It's still far too early to understand where we are compared to our competitors," said Massa.